Useful Editing Tools

HELP WITH EDITING

Until recently, I’d never heard of editing software. A computer doing my editing is not something I’d even thought about, let alone used. However, as I’m always open to new ways to improve my writing I thought I’d give it a try.

There are many options out there, but the two I have tried are FREE – Hemingway and ProWriting Aid. Both options allow you to copy and paste text into their editor and they will give you results on your work.

Hemingway – Grades your work with an overall score. The lower the score, the better the work. It also highlights:

• Complex sentences that are hard to read and need shortening.
• Sentences that are very hard to read, i.e. dense and complicated – the reader will stumble.
• Phrases that have simpler alternatives.
• Adverbs – we can easily overuse them.
• Use of passive voice – this can remove the reader from the story.

If your writing is fairly good and you just want to tighten up your prose a little, then this is a good little tool.

Pro Writing Aid – Covers the same as Hemingway plus much more. It is ideal for those who want more detailed help with their editing.

This editing software gives you up to 19 reports. You can only use the free version online, as with Hemingway, and the most you can paste in at any one time is 3000 words. For most of us, that’s enough and I felt that doing a small chunk at a time, was easier to cope with than reams of work.

However, once you’ve tried it, and if you like it, you may wish to upgrade to premium level ($35 in June 2015). This offers interactive editing, more reports, no word limitations and can be used within Word and Google Docs. You can also personalise the reports you want and create your own House Style so it doesn’t keep picking up the same errors.

I prefer to work from paper edits and may well decide to subscribe to premium. Then I can print off reports to work on in more comfortable surroundings, such as lying in the sun or curled up on my comfy sofa! You can trial premium for 14 days and it enables you to edit in the original document, which is a time-saver.

Some of the reports offered are:
• Overused words
• Clichés and redundancies
• Writing Style
• Grammar check
• Repeated words
• Diction & Dialogue checks
• Pacing
• Alliteration

These are very useful tools and I’ve tightened up my writing using them. However, I have one big rider and that is, DO NOT take everything as gospel. Use it as an aid, but let common sense prevail.

FINAL EDITING TIP

I will leave you with one last editing tip that I find very useful that doesn’t need computer software – read your work out loud. You will find by doing this, it will help with your punctuation. You will find natural pauses to put in your commas and where you stumble to read, you know that you need to edit those sentences.

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