Now I can cobble up together some popular words to make a fictional restaurant name feel authentic! Chang’s Lucky Wok anyone?
The earliest instances of writing were done by hand and any copies were made by scribes so every book was unique. Many such manuscripts included doodles or annotations that either hinted at the scribe’s creativity or provided insights on their inherent boredom.
The printing press increased our opportunity to get published works to the masses. The advent of eBooks further accelerated this phenomenon.
Authors are as varied as the stories they tell. Some still write by hand, channeling the spirit of monks and scribes of old. Others prefer the feel of a typewriter, an aspect often portrayed in movies and novels.
Technology has allowed writers to venture into the digital age. While some authors like George R.R. Martin remains stubbornly entrenched on the technology they adopt, others embrace tools to lend aid. Now it’s common to see people in coffee shops writing away on their laptops, feeding from the raw energy that permeate such places.
Advances in technology are not exclusively confined to software, computers have gotten smaller and more compact. Many of us own phones that have more processing power than was available for NASA during the Apollo program. However, this technology has not been wildly adopted as a convenient way to create content. I mean for more than keeping notes and jotting down ideas, but for writing a whole manuscript from start to finish.
A week ago, I completed my first review of a manuscript, written entirely on my smart phone. To note, I did not use a Bluetooth to make typing easier, and used software readily available on most Android phones.
So Why Did I Do It?
Tools are at my fingertips. Auto-correct features are available on every device, a capability which is invaluable. We can fire up a browser to confirm details, after all Wikipedia is just a bookmark away. Revision history on Google Docs allows is great for collecting statistics on updates and changes over time.
Backup and share live. Basic tools like Google Docs can back-up and share work live. Unless disconnected from the Internet, the manuscript will be available on any device. How often did you have a stroke of genius, but forgot most of it before you got home?
I can take it wherever I go. While the same can be said about pen and paper, many carry their phones where they go. Given a spare moment, pull out your phone and continue adding to a chapter. This is an aspect that I found to be indispensable, especially as a parent who works full-time. After all, finding a moment to sit in front of your laptop can be a daunting task.
My manuscript was 65,643 words over 165 pages when I finished the review which generated 8,384 corrections. Tools inherent to Google Docs allowed me to generate statistics. In turn, this information enables you to gauge your revision cycles and later focus your goals.
So What Did I Learn?
Auto-correct is invaluable. Typing on a virtual keyboard will generate errors. Perhaps your thumb struck a letter instead of the space bar, or the auto-correct interpreted a word differently than anticipated. However, disabling the auto-correct it is not an option, since you’d end up with large swathsnofnmyspelednwords (swaths of misspelled words) that make no sense.
Not portable by default. If you forgot to set your document to be available offline, then you will not be able to update existing chapters until you have an opportunity to connect to the Internet.
Working Offline. A lot of auto-correct features built into Google Docs are unavailable when offline; phones will then revert to their built-in system. Checking on your progress after you reconnect, will show a slew words that were misinterpreted.
Reviewing your manuscript is critical. This process is critical for any manuscript to confirm your work. During this cycle, I came across words that made no sense and needed to decipher their meaning. While this happens with content creation method, errors are compounded by speed and relying on auto-correct.
Overall I found the advantages of using my mobile device to outweighed the disadvantages. While my writing is not as fast on a virtual keyboard, it’s close enough to push through. Additionally, I can use my time while on a bus, while waiting for my child to finish her extra-curricular activities.
Even at locations that do not have reliable Internet, my smartphone provides me with a quick and easy way to continue with my work. While laptops have their own charms, the battery life and size make them impractical for day-to-day usage.
Perhaps a better technology will come along within the next couple of years. I’ll be sure to re-evaluate and might even take the plunge. Who know? For now, I found a tool that works for me!
I was playing around with my camera, intent on creating a featured image for another post. However, when I looked at the finished product it got me thinking. I know! Rather dangerous for an author!
During a flash of creative inspiration, the world I see is both pristine and clear. I could spend weeks writing that scene in all of its exquisite detail. How is that a problem? Like a lightning strike at night, details vanish as soon as they appear.
When looking at the shot, it sets the scene for someone collecting items and ingredients needed to bake a cake. In the picture there are ingredients, a tablet displaying the recipe, candles for later and even some serving plates.
However, once the flash is gone the minds rendition is no longer vibrant. In this case, the richness of reds have bled out from the shot. There is also a lack of detail and the image is cropped in such a way to prevent viewers from getting a sense of the bigger picture.
Like any story there are also inconsistencies or plot holes. How could someone make a cake without eggs, butter or vanilla extract? Why is a candle lit even though the cake is not ready?
Only after extensive reviews, reader input and hard work will author’s rendition approximate the original flash of inspiration. The reds will be more vibrant, the scene will sport a delicious cake that will make readers drool.
To think you can just taste that thick icing and marble cake… Wait? It was Maple Syrup cake originally!
Oh well minor detail. Hope no one will notice!
When looking through old photographs of my daughter, I have trouble reconciling that she was that person. I do remember how small her hands were when she was born and how helpless she was at first.
However, one look at my child as she rides her scooter through the house takes me out of such nostalgia-filled moments. In see her as-is, the talkative, bright-eyed and sassy girl that she is today.
In many ways, this mirrors my own experiences in life. We were all children once and remember key times in our youth. However I tend to view it through my eyes, filtered through a veil of adult experience.
This might explain why children in novels sometimes seem disconnected from reality. Unless you have a three-year old wreaking havoc in the house, you may not realise the unrealistic wisdom in their words or their excellent grasp of grammar.
Not that children that age are incapable of that sort of thing. There have been some golden nuggets of wisdom that my daughter said that threw me for a loop. Still that is a couple of instances over time, not a consistent affair.
The same applies when writing the world through a child’s eyes. When I was roughly my child’s age, I remember spending hours picking hazelnuts from the trees. My parents had a big advantage over me. However, I could find hazelnuts lower in the tree than they could for the same reasons they could not and that was size.
I was reminded of that fact when she asked me for my phone. My daughter wanted to take pictures of the squirrels running about and instead opted for a video.
It astonished me to see how close she was to the ground, how near her feet were and how much bigger the world seemed. Sure it’s all obvious when one thinks about it and I cannot help but wonder how much harder it gets once our own children have flown the nest.
One of my memories as a child was going to my grandparents. I remember a huge hill upon which they built a church and the trek that had to be made to ascend this great peak. When I returned decades later for a funeral, the hill was nowhere to be seen!
Now the church and the house had not moved. What had changed was my height and perspectives in life. In that one moment I was forced to reconcile memories of youth with current perspectives, but such opportunities can be rare.
So let your kids be kids, take plenty of pictures and never pass up the opportunity to see the world through their eyes! Doing so will certainly create more believable children in literature.
Jennifer Derrick has made a novel proposal. Every week she plans to post an image that is meant to get our creative juices flowing. If we so choose, we can can post a link to content that was created using the image as inspiration.
She will in turn compile a digest and distribute to her various networks. Jennifer compares it to a flash writing challenge and I love it! Could be a great way to get motivated, draw out some creativity and share with others!