An editing tool uses powerful algorithms to compare your content with that of thousands of published authors. It finds where your writing is clunky or awkward and helps turn your prose into a dynamic, compelling piece that gets readers’ attention.

Did you know that hundreds of thousands of writers are using editing tools to help polish their manuscripts these days? And more and more editors are requiring that their clients tighten up their texts with an editing tool before they submit them.

Sounds great. But how do they work?

An editing tool like ProWritingAid uses powerful algorithms to compare your content with that of thousands of published authors. It finds where your writing is clunky or awkward and helps turn your prose into a dynamic, compelling piece that gets readers’ attention. It goes way beyond grammar without taking away from your writing style.

In fact, you can enter a chapter and get a Summary Report. It’s like a report card for your document and it covers everything from how unique your vocabulary is to your work’s readability and top style suggestions.

1. Document score

Your document score shows how your manuscript rates on the key areas of grammar, spelling, style, and terminology. I ran a short blog post through to use as an example. Here’s what the document score looks like:

Editing Tool Score

You can see the overall score was low thanks to poor grammar and amateurish style, two areas easy to improve with suggestions from the editing tool.

The document score also lists key actions you can take to improve your score. The first one on the list points out that our sample blog post was very difficult to read, not what you want when you’re trying to appeal to readers!

Use your overall score as a barometer to see how improvements you make enhance your manuscript.

2. Unique words

The next stop on the Summary Report shows you how many unique words you used. It also highlights the five most unusual words as well as your most used words. Here’s what the report looks like for our sample blog post:

editing Tool Words

The total word count for the post is 619 words, with 318 of those unique. You can see the top five most unusual words used, but look at the top of the most used words list. Good grief! “Meditation” occurs 20 times in our sample post. Definitely overused.

You should also pay attention to the comparison of your work against other users based on dynamic words used. Our sample post’s vocabulary was “more dynamic (unique words/total) than 47% of ProWritingAid users.” Not the best score there, either.

3. Readability score

The third stop in the Summary Report is your content’s readability. ProWritingAid calculates readability score using a combination of words per sentence and syllables per word.

Grade scores correspond to US school grades. So, if you received a score on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade of 12.0, you’ve written something a senior in high school would understand.

Here’s what our sample post looks like:

Editing Tool Readability

This post needs work, wouldn’t you say? Seven very difficult-to-read paragraphs in one short post will turn off even your most devoted readers.

4. Sentence analysis

Your sentence structure affects how engaging your content is. Varying your sentence length keeps your readers engaged. Too many long sentences are hard to read. The Summary Report will give you a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” sign for sentence variety and sentence length so you can see how your manuscript rates.

Here’s what the sentence lengths of our sample piece look like on a graph:

Editing Tool Sentences

See how the long middle part of the post doesn’t vary much? We can improve the piece by going back through and varying the sentence lengths in that section.

5. Writing style

ProWritingAid shows you how style issues like the use of passive voice, hidden verbs, and overuse of adverbs detract from your writing.

We’ll break the Summary Report on writing style down into two separate screens. This first part shows how our sample content scored on these three stylistic points: passive verbs, hidden verbs, and adverbs.

Editing Tool Style

We did fine on passive and hidden verbs, but eight adverbs? Stephen King would be appalled. Time to kill some darlings.

The second part of the writing style report looks at how many sentences start with the same words and gives a few specific style suggestions. Here’s what ours looked like:

Editing Tool Style 2

See how the top style suggestions will help our sample piece be less stuffy and uptight?

6. Glue index on sticky sentences

Sticky sentences include some of the 200 most common words in the English language, like “of,” “the,” “on,” etc. By cutting these sticky words wherever possible, your readers can get to your meaning quicker.

Here’s what the glue index looks like for our sample:

Editing Tool Sticky Words

Argh! Thumbs down on both counts. This piece needs revisions.

7. Transition analysis

Good transitions make for a more cohesive structure that flows better. The Summary Report suggests you should have transitions in over 25 percent of your sentences. Here’s what our sample looks like:

Editing Tool Transitions

Another thumbs down. This post could use slick transitions and maybe a rewrite.

8. Clichés and redundancies

This part of the Summary Report needs little introduction. We’re all aware we should avoid clichés and redundancies in our writing. Here’s what the Summary Report found in our sample blog post:

Editing Tool Cliches

Oh no. A cliché! We’ll go back to edit that sentence and try to be more original.

9. Vague, abstract, and corporate wording

The Summary Report will list the vague and abstract words used so you can choose better ones. It also flags when you’ve used corporate wording, which makes your writing sound stiff. Here’s what this report looks like for our sample post:

Editing Tool Vague Words

These words aren’t impressing anyone. The editing tool’s suggestions make more sense to keep your content readable.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to tighten up your manuscript that go way beyond your usual grammar checker. Enter a chapter in ProWritingAid now to see how you score.

 

BookBaby Editing Services

 

Related Posts
Nine Manuscript Editing Software Programs You Should Consider
Why I Love Scrivener for iOS: A Review
Humans vs. Robots: When (And Why) You Should Use Editing Tools
7 ways an algorithm can help you write a better novel
What Editing Software Can Teach You About Your Writing
Why do you need professional editing for your novel?

 

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.

21 thoughts on “9 Ways an Editing Tool Helps You Polish Your Manuscript

  1. When will artificial intelligence write the whole novel, represent it as agent, publish it, and market it?
    As long as it doesn’t read the books, also.

  2. Ron Gale says:

    Sounds great, what’s the cost and use ability compared to AutoCrit or scrivener?

    1. JOHN giarla says:

      how much does it cost compared to Scriver,i,m writing a book, is Grammarly connected to Amazon so my M.S. can be transferred easily? my email is jpgiarla59@gmail.com

  3. M. Bloom says:

    I wish to purchase the one year premium @ $40 but when I put in the voucher code BB17 it says it is the wrong voucher code so is there really 10% off for this product, which would make it $36?

  4. Gayl Pollard says:

    “Amount of glue words” had me envisioning 200 little words heaped on kitchen scales. That interrupted my reading. The tool should use “number of glue words”.

    1. Beverly Scofield says:

      Yes, Gayl! That’s one of my bugabears. When people on TV talk about an amount of people it sets my teeth on edge. A number of discrete items that can be counted can’t be called an amount. Only something that can only be measured by volume can be called an amount.

      The other day I looked up “snuck,” a word that was forbidden when I was learning English but is used regularly these days by people I thought would know better. Lo and behold, I learned that “snuck” is now considered an acceptable, if not preferred, choice.

  5. Robyn Rye says:

    I have signed on for a free trial of your program (which so far is amazing!) but when I get to the lower half of my document and click on a highlighted word, the page shoots upwards and I can’t edit the word. Help!!
    My program is Microsoft word 7 and I’m using internet explorer.

    From Robyn

    1. Charlotte Mielziner says:

      You may be putting too many words into the sample. Try pasting a smaller group and see if it helps. There is also a very good help section in ProWriting Aid. Good luck.

      1. Lisa Lepki says:

        Thanks, Charlotte!

    2. Lisa Lepki says:

      Hi Robyn,

      Sorry – I missed this comment until now! Did you manage to get it sorted out? We have a great support team at hello@prowritingaid.com that will be happy to help if you drop them an email!

      All the best,

      Lisa

  6. Ken Badoian says:

    Sound OK but what if you are writing a book that contains many unique phrases, i.e. naval fiction? Also, how does it handle dialogue? I like the British style, dialogue in the narrative paragraph, and not the more accepted US style of each line of dialogue being a separate line. Can it be tailored to a spefic style?

    Thanks

    Ken Badoian

    1. Lisa Lepki says:

      Hi Ken,

      We have an “add to dictionary” function so you can set the software to allow any phrases that you need.

      It looks at dialogue in terms of pacing and tags, but the formatting is up to you.

      All the best,

      Lisa

  7. Marjorie Gaboda says:

    What is the cost of ProWritingAid? Is it a monthly/annual subscription?
    How does it compare to Scrivener? Is it compatible with Apple Laptops?

    1. Lisa Lepki says:

      Hi Marjorie,

      You can either get an annual subscription for $50 or get a lifetime subscription for $175.

      It’s a very different software to Scrivener. In fact, many of our users write in Scrivener and then use the desktop version of our app to open, edit and save their Scrivener projects. We do have a Mac version of the desktop app.

      All the best,

      Lisa

  8. Chris says:

    In the past, I’ve entered test pieces, taken from several published novels (not ‘self’, or ‘vanity’ published), into free trials of a few of these tools. Without fail, they fell down badly (the tools, not the pieces).

    Suggested substitute words would usually dumb down the piece, or change the intended meanings or nuances, often considerably so. Likewise, the removal of adjectives and even adverbs.

    Correctly spelled words (like ’emphasise’, ‘café’, and ‘naïve, for example) were often flagged up as incorrect, despite the tool being set to ‘British English’. Also, that so American, but poor, writing habit of leaving out those words and punctuations which help written English to flow was often evident in the suggested revisions.

    The pieces, once ‘edited’, read like sterile instruction sheets, or like writing intended for the very young or educationally challenged reader. That’s fine, if that’s the intention, but not if the writing is aimed at those who read for the pleasure of language. The whole beauty of the pieces was being taken away, leaving them sterile and bearing little resemblance to literature worth reading for anything other than cold information.

    These tools might be fine for dealing with press releases, company reports, instruction manuals, and other corporate writing from those for whom the writing comes secondary to their knowledge and expertise in their own fields, but for fiction or other creative writing, they seem to emasculate the creativity that gives that writing its character.

    1. Scott says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for validating my instincts regarding software like this.

      While yes, sometimes one might need their grammar checked, (there are a multitude of posts on the internet to prove this); flagging as incorrect, a creative writing style, or the arrangement of words that are such and necessary to show a character’s distinct way of speaking is in fact bad for the art of creative writing. The Star Wars character Yoda’s phraseology is a prime example of this. Everything statement that character makes would be marked for correction and if corrected, the character would no longer be the uniqueness that is Yoda.

      A few years ago I decided to submit a poem to a competition. Within the poem was the word “raiment”. The paper came back with that word underlined in read and clearly emphasized as incorrect. Apparently, the educated idiot reading the poem was to lazy to pick up a dictionary and look up the word and gain the understanding that the statement within which the word was being used was referring the the individuals clothing.

      Your reference to “dumb down” is right on point however; I must take exception to your use of the statement:

      “that so American, but poor, writing habit of leaving out those words and punctuations which help written English to flow was often evident in the suggested revisions.”

      That is not an “American, but poor, writing habit”. That is just plain, straight out ordinary, apathetic laziness on the part of the writer and is more prevalent these days as a result of social media sites like twitter that restrict how many words one is allowed to utilize when conveying one’s message. Or Facebook which has a bug in their comment box that will delete words so one sounds like a blithering idiot that doesn’t know how to talk (I caught it doing so).

      As far as spell checkers are concerned, I love spell checkers as I have yet to figure out whether I am consistently thinking faster than my fingers can type, or my fingers are intentionally mistyping words just to aggravate my compulsive perfectionism. Either way, spell checkers are good provided you have the appropriate dictionary installed along with it.

      Take care.

      1. Chris says:

        Sorry for the delay in responding, Scott (Bookbaby doesn’t notify of replies).

        You say:

        “That is not an “American, but poor, writing habit”. That is just plain, straight out ordinary, apathetic laziness on the part of the writer and is more prevalent these days as a result of social media sites like twitter that restrict how many words one is allowed to utilize when conveying one’s message.”

        The American habit I referred to is also frequently evident in spoken American English… “Thousand ten’ instead of the more elegant “A thousand and ten” or even “One thousand and ten”… or giving dates as “April nine” rather than “Aprit the ninth” or better still, “The ninth of April”.

        Then of course, there’s the use of the ‘Oxford comma’, or lack of it, which can confuse. In fact, commas and colons seem to be a dying breed on that side of the Atlantic.

        As for your comment about ‘raiment’, it reminded me of a long time ago, when I had some poetry transcribed onto floppy disc by a copy typist. She was careful to replicate my line layout, but corrected the lines:

        ‘Lousy music, my only partner,
        From inane Dee-jays on the radio.’

        She typed, instead, that the Dee-jays were ‘insane’.
        When I queried it, she’d said she’d never heard of the word ‘inane’.
        My publisher has recently put some of those old poems out as a short e-book anthology… fortunately with the correct wording. (He likes to have a few poetry titles on his list.)

  9. Grac says:

    I bought this and after using it, my document was riddled with formatting errors. I loved what the program offered but it the effort to fix the formatting afterward was a headache. (Scrivener to ProWriting back to Scrivener for compiling, then to ePub and Word).

    1. Lisa Lepki says:

      Hi Grac,

      Yes, we also found that copying and pasting from Scrivener to ProWritingAid and back again meant major formatting issues. To deal with this, we created the desktop version of ProWritingAid, which allows you to open, edit and save your entire Scrivener project. Your formatting remains intact.

      All of our integrations, including the desktop app, are Premium features, but you can try them for two weeks for free and see what you think.

      All the best,

      Lisa

  10. Rod Wallace says:

    Wonder if any of Steinbeck, Hemingway, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez have been put through the program. Do they still come out the same?

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