4TheWords Review

4thewords screenshot

4thewords is a site that aims to make writing into a video game. It accomplishes this through users battling monsters and completing quests by writing words.

The game provides a variety of monsters to be defeated by writing a certain number of words in a given time period. Both these and the quests can be ignored by clicking on the “write” menu tab instead of the “play” menu tab if a user chooses to focus on writing instead of the game.

4thewords battle screenshot 2

The site costs $4 per month but can be lowered through the use of core crystals. These can be earned in the game and used to extend your subscription.

Bluejay Feather

I decided to use 4thewords’s 30 day free trial this month while I completed my Camp NaNoWriMo project. The experience has been good overall. I think there are a lot of people who will find the site useful. However, I’m not sure whether or no not I will purchase a subscription in the future.

My favorite aspect of 4thewords is the way it makes writing feel as much like a video game as possible. The monster battles and rewards for writing are great motivation. For me personally, my hesitation about whether or not I will purchase a subscription comes down to the fact that I’m not sure these features are enough to make me willing to pay $4 a month for the site.

I have a good system in place already for writing first drafts. The monster battles are, in essence word sprints. There are other methods I can use for free to mimic the monster battles through word sprints without paying.

At this point first drafts come easily to me, the real challenge lies in finding a way to break down the editing process in a similar manor to how this site breaks down first draft writing. This site doesn’t help with editing.

This would be different for someone at an earlier stage in their writing journey. This site would have been invaluable when I was still at a point where I struggled to stay focused long enough to finish a first draft.

Where I would find 4thewords more helpful today is in writing something I don’t want to. The trouble with using it to write my novel is that fiction writing is something I really want to do. This site would be more useful motivation for writing things I don’t want to. For example, this website could make writing a thesis or lengthy essay a breeze.

Since starting this project was something I wanted to do more than almost anything else in the world, I found the extra features distracting.

Everything was easy to figure out, but even with this simple adjustment period I at first found these extra features annoying because I had to figure out how I could work past them to do what I wanted: start writing.

I came to love the monster battles for their word sprint like nature but at first found the monster battles annoying because I would become so absorbed in my project that I would forget that I’d started the battle.

4thewords battle screenshot

Again, I think this would not be a problem for someone less motivated than I was to work on their project. It’s obvious to anyone not 100 percent absorbed in their project to tell when a monster battle is taking place.

As I continued to work on my project, my motivation dropped and I gained more appreciation for some of the sites features. I adore the way that the site uses a streak to encourage writing every day. The streak led to me writing on days when I would have otherwise told myself I didn’t have time because I didn’t want my streak to go away.

On the other hand, the most annoying feature of the site is the way it saves projects. Each scene has its own file. This isn’t the problem. In fact, this makes it easier to work with long projects. The problem was that there seems to be a limit on how many chapters a project can have, which my work in progress greatly exceeded. The site also doesn’t automatically add new scenes to the end of the document. Instead, I had to drag the new files I created into place.

The site is also slow to update the number of words written and keep track of it’s countdown clock. When I’m battling  monsters, the section labeled “time left” almost always reads “00 h 00 m” no matter how much time remains. Luckily, the end time shown underneath of this battle remains accurate.

I’m used to using writing programs that update in real time. The 4thewords site has a three second delay. This leaves me confused as to why my word count doesn’t go up as soon as I type a new word.

The best aspect of the site’s word count feature is that it keeps track of the total number of words users write even if they delete them while also keeping track of the number of words that are actually in the document. I’ve never used another writing program that does this. It gives me a clearer idea of what I’ve accomplished each day.

This isn’t the site’s only means to keep track of how much a user writes each day, the progress calendar allows users to click to see how many minutes and words were written on a given day.

4thewords streak calendar

I find this inspiring. It leaves me in awe to know for certain that I’ve already spent over 24 hours working on my current novel length work. I’ve never had the amount of time I’ve spent on my projects laid out so clearly before.

Bluejay Feather

I’ve never applied my rating scale to anything other than books before, but have chosen to give 4thewords a 3.5/5. If it were cheaper and the glitches went away I could see myself giving the website a higher rating.

I think the website is the motivation many writers need. However, I already have a system in place that works, so it’s not worth the cost for me personally.

I’d also like to point out that this site is currently in early access mode. This means there could be many improvements still to come. Keep that in mind if you’re reading this review long after it was published.

3.5 blue jays

What writing sites and programs do you use? Do you use or plan to use 4thewords? Should I review more writing software? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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Monsters of Verity Duology Review

Our Dark Duet

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Titles: This Savage Song, Our Dark Duet

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publication Date: 2016-2017

Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Synopsis: In Verity, people’s crimes manifest as monsters.

August is one of these monsters. He doesn’t want to be but didn’t have a choice in the matter. Besides, Verity doesn’t need another human. It needs a monster. It needs him.

Kate is the daughter of the man who controls these monsters. All she wants is his approval, but approval is hard to get from a man who deals with monsters.

Together, they make up two halves of a divided city. A city where both halves hang on the edge between order and chaos.

Bluejay Feather

Thoughts: Without a doubt, I liked and at times even loved this duology. That said, there are also some aspects I’m not sure how I feel about.

I’ve read the first book multiple times in both physical and audiobook formats. I only do that with books that I adore.

What I liked most about This Savage Song were our protagonists, especially August. I love reading about characters who long to be someone they can never become. I don’t know why this is because this is not the case for me personally, unless the person I want to become is a successful novelist, but that’s not unachievable, just unlikely.

In any case, I recognize that this is a personal bias towards a particular character archetype as opposed to something other readers will feel the same way about.

I flew through the second book in a single day and found it difficult to put down just like the first one. That said, I don’t think I enjoyed Our Dark Duet as much as This Savage Song. 

It’s difficult to determine the cause of these feelings.  I think part of it stems from the fact that the protagonists undergo significant development between books one and two and at the beginning of Our Dark Duet. 

August and Kate have become very different people by the time Our Dark Duet starts. On one hand, the development is believable. On the other hand, I miss who the characters had been.

August and Kate develop a great dynamic in book one. It took a while for the two to start interacting with one another at the start of the book.

A similar amount of time is spent with the characters apart in book two as in book one, but I found myself wanting them together more. I feel like August and Kate lacked some of the synergy they gained in book one throughout book two. The reason for this is explained, but I still found myself missing their interactions.

I also felt like there was a plot-line introduced at the beginning of book two involving the other countries in this universe that was never concluded. This makes me wonder if the author is planning a separate novella or spin-off set in this location.

Part of my lack of satisfaction with book two might involve reading this book so soon after finishing the finale in the Shades of Magic series. Our Dark Duet and A Conjuring of Light had similar plots. 

I can’t go into many details without spoilers, but suffice to say that the similarities stemmed from the nature of the antagonists. Both Our Dark Duet and A Conjuring of Light contained what I consider to be two of Schwab’s least nuanced villains.

This Savage Song, on the other hand, had a plot that felt more different from Schwab’s other novels, though it felt more similar to other books I’d read.

Verity was something I loved in both books. I loved the idea of having monsters appear as a result of people’s sins. The world-building manages to feel simple and complex at the same time. My main complaint about the world-building is that I wanted to see more of it.

Rating: While, I didn’t personally love Our Dark Duet  as much as This Savage Song, I’m putting most of this down to personal bias and giving the series a 4/5 overall rating with 4.5/5 for This Savage Song and a 3.5/5 for Our Dark Duet. 

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Have you read this duology? What did you think? Do you want to read this duology? Have you read any of Schwab’s works in the past? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Beautiful People July 2017

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer questions about their characters. Except this month, in which we’re answering questions about our writing process instead.

Bluejay Feather

How do you decide which project to work on?

It depends. Whenever I get an idea I write it down and record it in a folder on my computer. I’ll let the ideas sit in that folder for a couple months. If I’m still excited about that idea after the time I leave it sitting in that file it’ll probably become at least a short story.

I decide which one to work on next by going through my list of ideas. I choose the one I’ve done the most research for or am most excited about in that moment.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

That depends. In someways none of my projects are technically done. I’m always going back and revising. Since none of my fiction is published, this has never really stopped.

In terms of first drafts of my novel length works, they usually take about three months or so. Revising takes much longer.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Not really, no.

What time of day do you write best?

I write best in the morning, but rarely get to. Instead, I usually write at the end of the day as a reward for finishing everything else.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I’m sure there are, but I don’t think I’d be the best judge of this fact. I’m too close to my work.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I’m not exactly sure when I started. I was slow to learn to read and write, but I’ve been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. One day I started writing those stories down. I haven’t stopped since.

I keep writing because somewhere in the midst of writing to share stories, I came to love the words themselves.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

I’m not sure. All of my projects are difficult in different ways. The hardest thing to finish was my first novel length work. That was because I was so filled with doubt.

Part of me wondered if I was capable of finishing something that long. It was a huge step for me to learn I am capable of writing something novel length.

My longest project, a 90,000 word long epic fantasy manuscript, was also difficult because long novels take even more focus than the 60,000-ish word ones I usually write.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

There is, but I feel I’m getting close. I’ve always wanted to write a novel from the perspective of an intelligent non-human being that lives in an aquatic environment. Seriously, I tried to write a story like this for the first time when I was about 12. That story was abandoned after the first page, but the idea of writing from the perspective of intelligent sea life has never left my mind.

Trouble is that it’s really difficult to write from the perspective of a being whose perception of the world is so different from humans. This is why I haven’t attempted this idea for so long.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I was hoping to have something ready to send out to beta readers by the end of this year. This is looking unlikely, but not yet impossible. It’s something I’m working towards but hit a setback when I decided to abandon the epic fantasy project I mentioned earlier for my current one.

I came to the conclusion while revising my epic fantasy work in progress that I don’t think I can make it good enough that it’s worth people spending money on. If I’m going to make people pay to read something, I want it to feel it’s worth their time.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Writing is rewriting.

It’s cliche, but it’s true.

Bluejay Feather

Anything surprising about my writing process? Is anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Anyone have a similar process? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!