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Handy Self-Editing Aid

My good friend, romance and erotica author & editor Sascha Illyvich, pointed out this cool tool to me a few months back. I’ve since used it on RPG projects, including the upcoming New World Order book, to help me out. But here I am, burying the lede[1].

Pro Writing Aid’s free editing web app allows you to paste in text and have it analyze the writing. You can look at the site and text it for yourself by pasting in a couple pages of your last project. It’ll tell you things it detects, including (at time of posting):

  • Overused words
  • Sentences that slow the reader down (or “sticky sentences”)
  • Adverbs & passive voice
  • Vague & abstract words
  • Check your US/UK spelling consistency
  • Sentence variation, etc.

It’s not perfect — when we used it on NWO, Leonard Balsera said that it was almost insulting at some of the stuff it flagged[2]. I figure it’s around 50% right, and 50% robot bullshit. Still, it points out things worth noting, like overusing words or vagueness. And it updates from time to time; last time I used it, it didn’t have the sentiment or time reports.

You can also tweak the report after being generated, if you want to have a copy mailed to yourself. Things like unchecking one of the overused words so that that word doesn’t flag any longer, stuff like that.

Like I said, it’s not perfect, but it’ll make you re-eye some of your work, and being able to do that is the key to successful revision and self-editing. (And real editing, of course, if you’re working on someone else’s document.)

– Ryan

[1] I just wanted an opportunity to spell “lede” correctly.

[2] See Lenny’s first comment below.

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2 Responses to Handy Self-Editing Aid

  1. Lenny Balsera says:

    Of course, you should take that comment in its appropriate context: a whiskey-soaked, stubbly writer in a bathrobe hunched over the screen going, “I *know* it’s a sentence fragment, you fucking robot, I *made* it that way *on purpose*.”

    In other words, I like the app and use it often.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Noted in post. I forget that not everyone pictures you as a whiskey (or rum)-soaked writer when words come out of your mouth.

      Or when they don’t.

      – Ryan