Editing software can improve your creative writing, and since you’re alerted to corrections and suggestions, you can also expect to learn a lot and grow as a writer.
Any writing that’s not academic, journalistic, or technical is considered “creative.” This includes any fiction or nonfiction writing, such as novels, short stories, poems, screenplays, narrative journalism (also called “creative nonfiction”), and others.
Considering it is both an art and a craft, the definition of creative writing isn’t written in stone. It may expand to other areas of writing that spark interest and trigger certain feelings. Some copywriting, including for ads and direct mail, can be considered “creative” as it aims to make people feel good enough about a product or service to buy it.
Creative writing projects may (or may not) include facts and opinions and usually hinge on how the author expresses his or her feelings. In creative nonfiction, while facts are included, the overall tone and style are designed to read like a novel.
Editing software like ProWritingAid can improve your creative writing. Plus, as you’re made aware of suggested corrections and variations on your word choices, you can also expect to learn a lot and grow as a writer.
Here are nine ways editing software can improve creative writing.
1. A catchy first paragraph
Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, a catchy first paragraph sets the tone. It also serves as the all-encompassing idea that dialogues or arguments are based upon. So, develop it carefully.
Considering its essential role in hooking readers, write tightly and precisely. Any excess words or phrases should be trimmed out. An editing tool can help identify sticky sentences, redundancies, and overused words so you can edit out unnecessary parts.
2. Character development
Each fleshed-out main character has his or her own opinions and thought patterns, which can be portrayed with the right diction and synonym choices whilst avoiding clichés.
Select these individual reports in an editing app so you can quickly scan which character’s description needs revision. Next, you can further develop it with your own imagination.
The dialogue check in an editing app helps writers create dialogue that is lively and “shows” instead of “tells.” It scans for dialogue tags, like “said,” “asked,” “shouted,” “roared,” and others. This feature is especially important for new writers who tend to use excessive dialogue tags and adverbs.
4. Flow and transitions
Transition words and phrases determine the flow of your writing, as they guide readers to follow your train of thought clearly without having to guess.
An editing tool will scan your text and summarize with a “transitions score,” which is based on the percentage of sentences that come with transition words like “nevertheless,” “similarly,” “likewise,” and “as a result.” The ideal score is 25% or higher, which translates to one transition word or phrase every three to four sentences.
If your transition score is low, you should go back through your work and decide which word is the perfect bridge to get your reader from thought A to B.
5. Plots or points of discussion
In fiction, the plot makes up the skeleton of the story. In nonfiction, the points of discussion serve this purpose.
While developing plots and points of discussion is mostly a human writer or editor’s job rather than an algorithm’s, the editing tool can be helpful in paraphrasing and word choices through inbuilt features such as the contextual thesaurus.
This feature is a lifesaver, especially when you’re a UK writer writing in US English or vice versa. Running the consistency check means your editing tool will flag inconsistencies, such as spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, single or double quotes, and ellipsis.
There are over 1,700 spelling differences between UK English and US English and 60% of surveyed writing samples have hyphenation inconsistency. If a reader notices an inconsistency, it will distract them from your content. Use the editing tool to iron these out and allow your readers to stay immersed.
7. Style and tone
The style and tone of your writing includes the use of passive/active voice, adverbs, hidden verbs, repeated words or phrases, alliteration, clichés, and clunky words. A good editing app will offer a tailored report on each of these issues.
Sometimes when you’re used to a particular style, it takes a while to switch to another style, such as using specific adverbs and hidden verbs that sound more “official.” When running these checks, consider who your target audience is and tailor your content to them. Being verbose and using passive voice may be appropriate for a think-tank or pompous character but shouldn’t be used in a call-to-action or a laid-back character’s dialogue.
The readability analysis further provides information on how easy or difficult the text is to be read. There are four popular scoring systems: the Flesch Reading Ease Score, the Coleman-Liau Formula, the Automated Readability Index, and the Dale-Chall Grade. Your editing app might use any or all of them.
You can choose to score a paragraph so you can conveniently make changes to conform to other parts’ readability level. For instance, whenever I write at a too “advanced” level with complex sentences and technical jargon, the paragraph shows a level higher than 8 or 9. Since I write for the public, ideally the paragraphs are written for readers with a 7th-grade reading level, so I know to revise these and choose more straightforward words.
8. Grammar and mechanics
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are three important writing elements by which a good writer is measured.
While Microsoft Word remains the most popular writing software, its suggestions for improving your work are limited. An editing app’s algorithms include thousands of specific checks on issues that common word processors can’t catch.
For example: averse vs. adverse. An editing tool’s grammar checker will both flag the mistake and include an explanation:
Adverse and averse are both used to convey a negative idea, but adverse is an adjective meaning something that’s harmful (e.g. adverse weather conditions) and averse means “a strong dislike” (e.g. “She is averse to the idea of marriage on philosophical grounds”).
This helps you learn as you write.
9. Word choices
The first draft of any writing project is likely the most creative, but at the same time, it usually comes with limited vocabulary. Writers are in productive mode and don’t want to lose momentum by spending time searching for the exact right language.
During the redrafting stages, you can use your editing app to check and correct problematic diction, adverbs, sticky words, redundant words, and repeated words at the click of a button.
ProWritingAid’s contextual thesaurus allows you to double-click any word to be shown a list of synonyms that might work. Unlike going back and forth to use an online thesaurus, which doesn’t take context into account, this built-in functionality allows you to play with word options.
If you want even more synonyms to choose from, you can go to the Word Explorer. This feature of the editing app helps writers find inspiration and build new ideas around the words already used in the text. It provides various choices for alliterations, rhymes, synonyms, collocations, anagrams, clichés, phrases, and famous quotes. The examples provided have been selected by editors and cited from notable books and quotes so you can review them and be inspired.
Putting your editing tool to work
The act of creative writing is itself both an art and a craft, requiring a significant amount of human touch. Algorithms can assist with the more mundane parts of the process. Using summary reports and individual reports can increase your productivity and the overall quality of your final draft.
Today’s high-tech era provides creative writers with the best algorithms to produce masterpieces. What a great time to be a writer!
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