Once you've got your story down in some sort of cohesive order of words, it's time to shred it up again in the form of editing which can be dreary work. Here are eight easy-to-use editing tools that will take the bulk of the work off your hands, allowing you to concentrate on the storytelling.
“Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor.”
Normally I hate this phrase, but Grammarly is spellcheck on steroids. It checks over 250 types of grammatical mistakes, as well as contextual errors and poor vocabulary usage. As well as making you aware what mistakes you have made, it also gives you advice on how to avoid them in the future.
Not only are all these powerful algorithms available in a standalone app, but you can also get extensions to plug in to Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and pretty much anywhere else you write.
“WordRake tightens, tones, and clarifies your writing. Just click the "rake" button and watch the in-line editor ripple through your document, suggesting edits to remove clutter and improve unclear phrasing, just like a live editor. Give your first drafts the polish of a second or third draft, quickly and painlessly.”
One of the biggest problems writers face is overwriting, trying to flesh out sentences with flowery language, increasing word count, and bogging down your story with unnecessary baggage. WordRake cuts an unforgiving knife through your manuscript, highlighting areas that you can remove, tighten, or simplify.
However, this great tool comes at a price. Not only is it an exclusive integration for Microsoft Word and Outlook, but it costs $129 for a year’s licence.
“EditMinion is a robotic copy editor to help you refine your writing by finding common mistakes”
Still only in beta, EditMinion is already a great little tool for editing your work. It gives you all the statistics you could want, a total word count, weak words, adverbs, tense usage, latin/greek roots, clichés, even highlighting words created by Shakespeare for a bit of fun.
You have to paste in sections of your text, but for something that is still a work in progress, it’s showing promise.
“AutoCrit is an online manuscript editing tool enabling fiction writers to quickly and effectively self-edit their work anytime, anywhere.”
AutoCrit concentrates on six key areas of editing: pacing and momentum, dialogue, strong writing, word choice, repetition, and repetition (I couldn’t resist, sorry), as well as comparing your work to existing fiction.
It’s the last of these that really make AutoCrit stand out from the crowd. It compares words and sentence constructions from your manuscript to successful published fiction, including mass-market paperbacks and bestsellers. You can even specify the genre.
This is another option that costs money, but there are different packages to suit different writers, ranging from $5 a month up to £12 a month.
“Hemingway App makes your writing bold and clear.”
This is a very nice and simple editing app. You simply paste in your text and it highlights issues in an instant. Using a basic colour scheme, the app suggests changes in your sentence structure, word usage, and grammar. If it’s yellow, it should be shortened or split into two sentences. If it’s red, then your sentence is overly complicated and needs to be heavily edited.
Words highlighted in purple should be replaced, and if you’re stuck for an alternative, Hemingway has your back with suggestions.
“Every word counts”
No surprises here, Word Counter does exactly what it says on the tin, count words. However, as well as giving you a basic number, this easy to use app also counts characters, sentences, paragraphs, as well as the estimated reading and speaking time. It also lists the top ten words you use, helping you stop repetition.
Another handy metric is the ‘reading level’ which is an indicator of the education level a person would need to have in order to understand the words you’re using in your writing. Very useful if you’re aiming your book at a certain demographic, like a children’s bedtime story, or a YA adventure.
Another tool which causes no confusion is Cliche Finder, which finds cliches and idioms in your writing.
Copy and paste your work, hit ‘Find cliches’ and be prepared for a whole load of red text to appear, highlighting the unoriginal phrases littered throughout your story that you didn’t even know where there. It happens to the best of us.
“Our software helps turn your good writing into great writing. Improve readability and eliminate errors.”
Very similar to AutoCrit, ProWriting Aid has a free tier to help you get started. The free version is limited to 19 writing reports, and 3000 words, so it might not be great for your book, but will give you a taste for what it can offer.
The app checks for hidden and passive verbs, finds repetitive sentences, replaces overused words, and eliminates complex ones. It also checks and corrects spelling and grammar mistakes, punctuation, and creates a basic hyphen and capitalisation style, keeping your writing consistent.
An extra feature is the plagiarism check. The Pro version comes with 50 checks that search over a billion web-pages, published works, and academic papers. You can buy more credits through the website.
All of this is useable in Word, Google Docs, Chrome, Scrivener and more.
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