Editing software can’t replace a human editor, but if you present him with a well-edited, highly-polished text, an editor will be able to focus on your content and ideas rather than your syntax and word choice.

As writers, we’re sometimes too close to our prose to pick out areas where we can tighten it up. We all have our writing strengths, and we all have bad habits. Yep, even you!

One thing I have learned over the last couple of years is that editing software can teach you a thing or two about your writing that you might not expect. I like ProWritingAid, but find the tool that works best for you.

Editing tools use complex algorithms to compare your writing with millions of published books and articles, past and present, from around the globe. They can give detailed analysis of your writing based upon what’s already out there. And if you are doing something in your writing that has never, ever been done by any published writer, it’s probably worth checking to make sure it’s correct.

I would never suggest technology can replace your human editor entirely, but if you present him with a well-edited, highly-polished text, an editor will be able to focus on your content and ideas rather than your syntax and word choice.

Here are a few key things you can learn about your writing through the use of editing software.

Reading ease

You want readers to glide through your writing with nothing to slow them down. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. An editing tool will show you the following gaffes that make your prose hard to read.

  • Readability scores. How easily can your audience get through your writing? If a seventh grader can read and understand it, you’re highly readable. If you’re writing commercial fiction at a college level, it’s too hard to read. Editing software analyzes and scores each paragraph. Use this readability score to find passages that should be simplified and replace those words your readers might stumble over.
  • Inconsistencies. Nothing breaks your reader’s attention like inconsistencies in your prose. This includes spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization. In particular, British, Canadian, Australian, and American English have differences that are immediately noticeable (e.g. colour vs. color). Your editing software can catch these inconsistencies, allowing your reader to sit back and enjoy your writing.
  • Sentence length. Good writing varies in sentence length, allowing your prose to ebb and flow. Short, choppy sentences make for quick reading. Longer, more flowing sentences slow reading down, giving your reader time to consider and ruminate. A good editing software program will graph your sentence length to give you a visual analysis of your sentence length variation.
  • Pacing. When your fiction writing contains too much introspection or back story, it can bore your reader. You want to move things forward with action. Editing software will analyze your writing for pacing to ensure you’re spreading out your slow, reflective scenes and maintaining forward momentum.

Technical edits

Technical edits help you tighten and polish your writing. Certain errors can scream “Amateur!” which you want to avoid both in fiction and business writing. Consider the following.

  • Adverbs. While the occasional adverb can be important to your meaning, strong verbs make adverbs moot. Readers don’t want to hear how she “talked quickly.” Instead, tell them how she “fired off words.” Use editing software to filter out adverbs so you can decide whether they’re appropriate or if they should be replaced with a stronger verb.
  • Glue words. Glue words are those common words that don’t tell your readers much, such as in, is, the, of, on, like, an, etc. When a sentence uses over 45% of these words, it’s a sticky sentence and it needs to be tightened up. Instead of saying “she was of the opinion,” try “she believed.” Replace “I was able to see” with “I saw.”
  • Unnecessary or redundant words. These are hard for a writer to see until they are highlighted. We write conversationally, and redundant words slip into our vernacular like foxes into a hen house. The following sentence sounds appropriate, but it’s cluttered with unnecessary words: The string of missteps first began when Serena slipped on the frozen ice. “First” is redundant because “began” means the first occurrence, and “frozen” should be deleted because “ice” is obviously frozen. Using an editing tool will catch these redundancies so you can declutter your prose.
  • Repeated words. Again, another difficult problem for writers to detect. We know what we want to say, and sometimes we repeat certain words or phrases to get our meaning across. Sometimes this is acceptable, such as using keywords in your content, but you don’t want readers to notice you’re saying the same word over and over again. Good editing software shines a light on repeats so you can find better alternatives.

Use technology to your advantage

Look for a comprehensive editing tool that provides analysis on the greatest number of commonly made mistakes. There are many more functions editing tools will provide beyond those discussed here. Your basic spell-checker in a word processing program can take you part of the way, but purpose-built editing software will help you assess your writing to ensure you’re saying what you mean in the best way possible.

A tight, highly-polished text will make your human editor’s job easier. And editors love writers who make their jobs easier!

 

BookBaby Editing Services

 

Related Posts
7 Ways An Algorithm Can Help You Write A Better Novel
Humans vs. Robots: When (And Why) You Should Use Editing Tools
Why Do You Need Professional Editing For Your Novel?
What To Expect From Copy Editing
How To Turn A Good Manuscript Into A Great Manuscript
What Kind Of Book Editing Do I Need For My Manuscript?

 

Lisa Lepki

About Lisa Lepki

Lisa Lepki has written 4 posts in this blog.

Lisa Lepki is an indie author, a staffer at ProWritingAid, and an active member of the grammar police. Lisa loves the challenge of extending the endless catalogue of writing rules in the ProWritingAid software (currently she and the team have 3,471 rules and that number increases each week!). Readers of the BookBaby Blog can get 20% off the Premium version of ProWritingAid by using voucher code BB2017.

20 thoughts on “What Editing Software Can Teach You About Your Writing

  1. I have a bone to pick with ProWritingAid. I bought the basic program in October 2016 and it has quit on me. When I click on one of the edit portions, all it does is cause my pause circle to spin and spin. Nothing every comes up for me to edit. When I first got the program, it worked well and I loved it, even recommending it on my group forum site. Now, I’m really disappointed.

    1. Lisa Lepki says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Let me help you figure it out. Email me at lisa@prowritingaid.com and we will get it up and working again for you.

      Warmest,

      Lisa

  2. Kimberly J says:

    I use Hemingway editor. When I finish taking my manuscript through it I then take my manuscript through Prowriting Aid. I love them both!!!

  3. Martin says:

    Thanks for the tip about the writing aid!

  4. I use Stylewriter as part of my self-editing process on everything from short-stories to full-length novels. It has definitely helped me improve my writing over the years and I throroughly recommend it to any writer. I particularly like the way it can be be tailored to handle Fiction/Non-fiction and English for US/UK/Australian markets, something which helps sell my work more easily. It has paid for itself many times over. By the way, the best version for writers is the Standard Edition (Starter falls a little short with what we need and the Professional just adds a lot of statistics which are practically useless to an author more focused on polishing a story). I wrote a blog post a while ago about how I use it as part of an overall self-editing process: http://www.ericjgates.com/TipsTricksSelfie.html

  5. Jini says:

    Do you have a great voice-to-text software or app for Macintosh and iPad you can recommend? I would love to hear from anyone who has tried a few and found the best!

    1. Zane Cory says:

      I agree. I am looking for that GREAT voice-to-text software as well for Mac and/or PC.

      1. There is voice to text in MS Word. You have to play around with the feature, but once it gets used to the sound of your voice, it is an amazing asset to the writing time.

    2. Gene Morton says:

      Jini: Have activated voice to text in MSWord and GoogleDocs. Both seem clumsy at first. More commands in MSWord. Both have to train to your voice. My preferences lean toward MSWord’s ability to go back and correct errors when the voice is misread. GoogleDocs is only in the web and can be accessed by mobile devices.

    3. Jack says:

      To prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I spent most of March researching my voice dictation options. I went ahead and signed up for Dragon Anywhere app (Android & iOS) for $14.99 this month, just to try it out. I can definitely say I won’t be extending my subscription, partly because of the cost but mostly because the software seemed buggy… lagging, refusing to transcribe without first “verifying” my account status, stuff like that. Just not worth the headache.

      I’ve composed 99% of my novel this month using dictation alone. On my Mac I use the built-in Enhanced Dictation option (which is based on Dragon Dictation’s code). Provided you have a decent microphone (I use a wired, clip-on lavalier mic) and enunciate, it’s pretty accurate. It also transcribes non-stop (to time limits) and works offline, which is a huge plus.

      On an iPhone / iPad you have two great options: First, Siri’s built-in dictation feature, which gives you 30-40 seconds of time and gives you a live feed, so you can see your words appearing on the screen. Second, Dragon Dictation’s free app is also surprisingly accurate, and gives you a full minute before it times out. On the iPhone all the text is in one file, but on the iPad you have the option of creating multiple files, both of which you can copy, e-mail or export later.

      Hope it helps!

      – Jack

      P.S. Google Docs Voice Typing feature also works great, it just requires a constant connection.

    4. m clark says:

      natural reader 14 is pretty good and you can change the narration voice to on you like.

  6. Roy Hunt says:

    Thank you, Lisa and Bookbaby for this great info. Will definitely end up getting one of them. I tried pasting three chapters of my work to prowriter for a sample, but it wouldn’t allow me, but still, it seems a great site.

  7. Amber says:

    I think the maximum for the online free Aid is 500 words.

  8. Susan McCrae says:

    Has anyone used AutoCrit? I’m thinking about it.

    1. Barry says:

      I’m using it right now. I am a novice at all this so it is the second one I have tried, Grammarly being the first. Grammarly wasn’t equipped to take my whole manuscript, AutoCrit was and that is why I changed. AutoCrit also is well equpped to doeberying that is mentioned in this article so I am still learning but, so far so good.

    2. Chris Maylin says:

      HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE $60 PER MONTH

  9. I went in to ProWritingAid thinking “This is so near perfect I’ll be out of here in fifteen minutes.” Each of my (short) 65 chapters took hours. What with my sticky sentences, overuse of “would,” too many adjectives, etc, I felt that ProWriteAid saved my life. How embarrassing if my “perfect” manuscript had gone in to the world that way. That and some helpful critiquing has added immeasurable to the finished product.

  10. Deborah Tolley says:

    Hi! I’m really enjoying your post)
    This is a great list. Another tool I would add is unicheck.com. As a blogger, I’ve been using this the past 5 months after seeing my content was being taken and duplicated on a few other websites I did not give permission to. I suggest this for anyone publishing content online! Also, this tool gives me a detailed report so I can edit my citations and references in right way.
    Best wishes!

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