Using Pro Writing Aid

When I first found out about Pro Writing Aid in a post on Mythic Scribes, I decided to check it out and discovered it to be a fantastic tool. It surprised me when some other posters didn’t share my opinion. I finally realized that the difference in opinion is because it is a tool, and, as with any tool, its worth is defined by how it’s used.

What Pro Writing Aid is — a brute force algorithm that looks at certain word and stylistic choices.

What Pro Writing Aid isn’t — a substitute for editing or for your judgment as a writer.

I’ve been using this tool for six months or so, and my writing is tighter than it was. I find that I make fewer and fewer changes after running a chapter through the editor because I’ve already caught most of the mistakes. Out of 3,000 words, I usually make three to seven edits.

Here’s what I get out of it:

• Overused Words – All authors have the tendency to rely too heavily on certain words. Pro Writing Aid highlights those you’ve, perhaps, used too often. I particularly tend both to use versions of “feel” and to “initialize” too often. Seeing these highlighted in red helps me examine each use and choose better words for variety.
• Cliches – I tend to use three or four phrases per chapter that the system flags as clichés. Such usage doesn’t bother me too much, but it’s nice to consider if there’s a better way to express myself.
• Redundancies – Most of the ones the system flags aren’t actual redundancies as it will count two words that are separated by a phrase without taking into account the meaning of the intervening phrase. Every couple of chapters, though, it will spot something worth changing.
• Sentence Length – The system feels that your sentences should average between 11 and 13 words. Mine tend to fall in the 8 to 9 word range. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, and I haven’t tried to fix it.
• Diction Report – I find the end of sentence preposition highlighting useful and often find words that I can delete this way.
• Vague and Abstract Words Report – This report has helped clean my writing of words like “all” and “some.”
• Writing Style Report – This report highlights all your adverbs in green. It’s never a bad idea to read your sentences without the adverb to make sure they’re necessary. The report also shows hidden verbs in purple. I usually find at least one a chapter that I can make more active.

I haven’t tried the pay version of the editor. If anyone has, I’d appreciate a comment on what additional service is provided, how much it is, and whether it’s worth it.

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