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  • nancywaldman

Toyz for Writerz!

Writer, and fellow Quillian, Chuck Heintzelman offers a user-friendly website of free story tools for writers. These are not only fun, they are useful! Toolz? or Toyz? You be the judge.

First, Chuck gives us a tool that will check your writing excerpt for readability. It gives an amazing level of detail. You will get a table with several grade level rating scales, so you can see what reading level the writing is geared toward. This information can be especially useful when writing YA.

It also provides sentence information (percent of passive sentences!), word usage (number of adverbs!) (number of “to be” verbs!) and even what kinds of words your sentences start with. While seeing this information so starkly is a little bit daunting, it’s valuable information to have when editing. Habits such as overuse of the verb “was” are easily shifted when you realize how many are there. Starting too many sentences with pronouns can make for dull, repetitive reading. This little tool will clue you in to what kinds of things might be getting in the way of that publishing contract.

And here’s another great tool: the Cliché Buster. Drop in your excerpt and it will check your writing against a list of 1,395 clichés and let you know what they are.

On the more fun, though still useful end of things, Chuck provides Story Idea, Random Conflict and Half Title generators. Here’s the result of one of my title searches: “Mikal’s Of August”/”The Screwfly Effect”/”The Screwfly Of August”/”Mikal’s Effect.” Try it. You never know what is going to inspire a great story.

And finally: Word Count Meters! Who doesn’t love them? And Chuck’s are fully customizable so they’ll look great on your site. I know I’ve wasted spent a fun hour or so fixing up mine for my Summer Mop-Up of unfinished stories.

Chuck’s recently published a collection of his stories in Strange Perceptions, available on Kindle. He also writes “Zero to One,” a column for The Scriptorium Webzine for Writers.  If you like audio instead, you can listen to Chuck reading his story, “The Train Bandits,” here. And an interview with Chuck, here.

You can find a lot of Chuck’s great short stories on his main website, StoryChuck. Thank you, Chuck!

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