My relationship with editing is a stormy one. While I love how the story comes together in first round of high-level editing, the thrill disperses once I’m in the second and third rounds, when I’m looking for the little details that separate published authors from a B- on a college creative writing assignment.
Yes, I hire a professional editor. That’s no excuse for sloppy submissions, though. A professional editor can concentrate on the fine details of your draft if you’ve done a good job of cleaning up the big stuff. The problem most of us have is that we tend to miss things in our 80,000 word forest. Especially after several months of writing and re-writing.
I’ve found a solution.
ProWritingAid is on online editing tool that searches your document for all of those little issues. In fact, it does a little too much for my taste, but you can shut off the features you don’t like, things like “Corportate Wording Check,” which suggest a simpler word where you’ve used a more complex one. I don’t do that often, and when I do it stems from my character’s personality, so I don’t need that feature. Some of you may, though. We each know our weaknesses and where we need the most help.
Other checks include “Overused Words,” one that I rely on heavily. Speaking of heavily, it also checks every adverb and asks if you can use a stronger verb. One weakness in the program is that anything ending in -ly is considered an adverb. The program doesn’t make any automatic changes, so you can ignore many of its suggestions.
Naturally, the “Grammar Check” is my favorite feature. I love commas, and tend to overuse them. ProWritingAid is good at catching those. Spelling is included in the grammar check, so I can pick up anything I might have missed in my Scrivener’s spell checker.
As you can see, ProWritingAid offers a long list of checks for your document. I prefer to cut and paste one scene at a time, though you can upload or paste in an entire manuscript. I haven’t tried that yet, but it could be a bit overwhelming. For things like overused words, however, it might be a good idea. We all have our favorite pet words.
A must have for me when using a program like this is the second monitor. I have an old dell flatscreen that I plug into my Macbook. Most of us have access to old monitors now and I simply cannot function without two these days. With ProWritingAid up on the second monitor, I keep Scrivener open on my Mac and easily make the recommended changes (or not). If you use one monitor, it does get a bit annoying switching back and forth, unless you’ve got one of those TV-sized monitors that allows you to set your windows side by side (on my Christmas list).
The Premium version of ProWritingAid allows you to edit online, then download your file back into Word format or into Google Docs. That’s an extra step for us Scrivener users, so I don’t use it, but many of you may find it very convenient.
Naturally, there’s a free version of ProWritingAid. It’s useful for seeing if you like the program and not much else. The Premium version, which most of us will use, costs $35 a year. A bargain compared to the cost of that additional round of paid editing. There’s also a Premium+ version for $40 a year, which also checks for plagiarism. Popular among college students, I assume. You probably won’t need that.
ProWritingAid can be found at ProWritingAid.com and is easy to navigate. The tab is always open on my Mac now with my latest scene edit in place. Go give it a try. I think you’ll find it saves you in editing time and may even produce a piece ready for publishing (though I still love my human editor).
Ron Estrada writes Young Adult and Middle Grade paranormal with a twist of faith. His current serial novel, the Darla the Alpha Cat series, is edited only with ProWritingAid and feedback from his Wattpad readers. So far, no complaints! Book 1 of Cat’s Out, the first season of the series, is now available on Amazon. Find out more about Ron at his website at RonEstradaBooks.com.