Check Your Writing … Instantly

Check Your Writing … Instantly

Charles Euchner

The Writing Code, the only brain-based system for mastering storytelling and writing, offers an instant-editing application called Check Your Writing.

“Writing is editing,” Fran Liebowitz once said. Producing a complete draft is really just the beginning of producing a great story, article, or essay. Early drafts are filled with problems. Polishing writing requires hunting down those mistakes, one by one, and fixing them.

Check Your Writing (www.thewritingcodesystem.com/check-your-writing) offers a quick system for doing just that. Take the draft of any piece, cut and paste it into the app, and click prompts for seven common problems with writing. Instantly, the program highlights potential problems. Then you can fix them, one by one.

“Editing always poses the thorniest of all problems,” said Charles Euchner, the creator of The Writing Code. “You have to look for so many things at once.”

Research on the brain, Euchner says, shows that people lose focus when they try to keep an eye out for many different writing problems at a time. By looking for problems one at a time, you can avoid “melting down” you brain.

Check Your Writing allows users to look for five common problems of writing, one by one, including the use of:

1 Passive verbs “to be” and “to have”

2 Excessive adjectives and adverbs

3 Emphatics and hedges

4 Bureaucratese and bloated writing

5 Cliches and other meaningless phrases

6 Homonyms

Check Your Writing also hunts down prepositional phrases. “That could be the most important catch of all,” Euchner says. “Typically, when sentences wander out of control, it’s because the writer adds lots of modifiers with prepositions like ‘of,’ ‘under,’ ‘over,’ and ‘after,’ to name a few.”

The Internet-based app does not fix problems. It only highlights words that often cause problems, which every good and writer should check while working on revisions.

The app grew out of Euchner’s experience in the classroom.

While teaching writing at Yale, Euchner wanted to find ways to encourage students to search for common problems with every draft. Working with a friend’s son and some scraps of html coding he found on the Internet, he created this instant-check app.

“You’re not going to be a better writer unless you scour your drafts for problems,” Euchner said. “But let’s face it. We can all get a little lazy. This app gives a quick way to spot common problems, so we can concentrate on fixing them.”

Check Your Writing is a free service of The Writing Code, the only comprehensive system for mastering writing and editing in all genres.

Euchner, the author of ten books on politics and public policy, baseball, and grassroots activism, originally created The Writing Code to make sure he and his students had “every possible tool in the toolbox.”

As he began research for Nobody Turn Me Around: A People’s History of the 1963 March on Washington (Beacon Press, 2010), Euchner says he realized that “I probably had 80 or 90 percent of all the tools that writers need.”

Those tools were enough to solve most challenges of writing. “Let’s face it,” Euchner said. “No matter how many skills I had mastered, I was missing some of them. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So I went on a mission to find them.”

Euchner studied the latest research on the brain, evolutionary psychology, linguistics, and rhetoric — as well as some of the greatest works literature and journalism — to identify all the skills that writers need to master.

When he started doing one- and two-day seminars for businesses, schools, and writers, he began by teaching storytelling. “Everyone loves hearing and telling great stories,” he said. “So why not start with what excites people?”

Over time, Euchner started to see a deep pattern in all challenges of writing — not just storytelling, but also the abstract challenges of construction (building great sentences and paragraphs, mastering grammar and style, and editing) and analysis (posing important questions, brainstorming, and figuring out what causes what).

“Storytelling actually provides a template for all the other skills of writing,” Euchner says. “If you can master the skills of storytelling, all those more tedious, abstract challenges come easily. That’s the ‘code’ of The Writing Code.”

In short, writing almost always takes a three-part form. Euchner’s seminars teach these three-part structures.

“But that still leaves the challenges of editing,” Euchner says. “I wanted to make that a little less tedious. That’s what Check Your Writing is all about.”

But Check Your Writing does not just highlight potential problems. By getting writers to focus on those problems one by one, it actually rewires the brain.

“When you go through a draft and look at every use of passive verbs, and then decide whether or not to switch to a more active verb, you are concentrating intently on that skill,” Euchner. “By focusing on that one thing, over and over again, you are changing the brain’s wiring. After a while, you start to write automatically with active verbs.”

Participants in Euchner’s seminars have been amazed by how quickly Check Your Writing transforms their writing.

“I get calls and emails saying, ‘Oh, my God, when you see all the potential problems highlighted for you, it’s so easy to just pick ‘em off, one by one.’”

The Writing Code offers seminars for “anyone who wants to write well, write fast, right away,” Euchner says.

In May, Euchner conducted two seminars for Fortune 500 executives at a conference in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Later this year, he will teach teachers in a conference organized by the National Education Association. He also teaches a special “immersion” program for student journalists at Vanderbilt University, his alma mater.

Writing Code seminars cost ” a lot less than most corporate training programs,” Euchner said. “I want to keep busy. I want as many people to get this as possible. That’s why I offer the app for free online. The point is to create momentum in learning.”

The Writing Code community is growing online, on Facebook/thewritingcode, Twitter/thewritingcode, and youtube.com/thewritingcode. You can also find Euchner on LinkedIn. Euchner blogs at www.thewritingcodesystem.com/blog.

Euchner is still developing books, audio and video programns, and online learning programs. His ebooks on writing have risen to the top of the lists for business books.

He is looking for national and regional sales people, with networks in corporate and educational institutions, to sell seminars. “There’s good money to be had for someone who loves sales and wants to make a difference in the world,” Euchner says.

Euchner’s longterm goal?

“Become the Rosetta Stone of writing,” Euchner says. “I want to provide a simple, intuitive system to help anyone — and I mean anyone — master writing fast. Some people say they just can’t write. They’re wrong. Anyone can write with the right system.”

 

 

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