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