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.


Special Offer! For a limited time, readers of the BookBaby Blog can get 25% off ProWritingAid Premium by using voucher code BB17 at check out.

 

BookBaby Editing Services

 

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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.

8 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?

  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”.

  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.

  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

  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?

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