Process, Tools

Editing with ProWritingAid

Earlier, I wrote about the advantages I’ve found using Scrivener, a complete writing environment, rather than a word processing program. Now that I am revising my first draft, I’ve discovered an editing tool that is proving invaluable.

I researched several tools before settling on ProWritingAid. Grammarly is considered the industry standard, but the desktop version doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Office on the Mac. Hemingway Editor, which I also use on occasion, is excellent at examining sentence structure, but it doesn’t check grammar or spelling.

ProWritingAid checks grammar, spelling, and writing style in one package, and it directly edits Scrivener files. It gives you a readability index, highlights difficult-to-read paragraphs, and flags problems such as repeated phrases, adverbosity (my own word, which you may use without attribution), “sticky” sentences, and more.

My editing workflow is to open a chapter in ProWritingAid and read through it, taking a high level view by noting all the flags and editing them. After saving the result, I take a low-level view via a second pass through the program in which I address the detailed list of potential  problem areas identified in eight separate screens. I print the resulting chapter and read it aloud, redlining it as I go. After making further edits in Scrivener, open the chapter for a third time in ProWritingAid, taking a last look at problem areas.

I don’t correct everything the program identifies. Sometimes a passive sentence is the only way to express a thought without screaming “WRITER!” Using an arcane “right word” instead of modifying a more common one can affect readability. If I didn’t use my own judgment, my writing would sound flat and formulaic.

But for finding the written potholes that my eye doesn’t see, I find this an exceptional tool.

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