writing toolsPosted: October 2, 2014
There are a few tools I have used intermittently in writing this blog.
One of them is Grammarly, which is an online grammar checker. I have used it off and on, but have for the most part been unhappy with the advice it has given me. A year ago my subscription was up but they offered me an attractive price so I renewed. I used it very little in the past year. I was not aware that I was on auto-renew, so I was annoyed when a renewal charge hit my credit card recently. Before writing to complain I decided to give it another try, since it had been a while since I had used it.
I used it on a few blog entries and I was not pleased with the results. While it did catch a couple things, a lot of the advice was either wrong for the context or just plain wrong. Grammarly also has a habit of telling me to add commas. I need to delete commas from my writing, not add more.
I have to give the good folks at Grammarly credit, however. I explained the circumstances and they have cancelled my account and reversed the charge on my credit card.
The second is the Writer’s Diet Test. This one is my favorite. The philosophy of the Writer’s Diet is very much in alignment with mine: that all other things being equal, lean is better. It measures for verbs (forms of to be), nouns, adjectives/adverbs, and waste words (it, this, that, there). It measures on a scale from “lean” to “heart attack territory,” with “fit and trim,” “needs toning,” and “flabby” in between.
I really like this tool, and it has helped me to improve some of my blog entries. At the same time, it can be aggravating. Sometimes I’m writing about something that just is, and I am explaining about what it is and what it does. In such cases, to replace forms of to be with other verbs is to risk sounding affected and pretentious. While useful, it is not perfect.
A third tool is the Online Consistency Checker. It exists to promote the products developed by Intelligent Editing, but it is a nice little accessory. It reads a Word document and checks for things like spelling variation and consistency in hyphenation.
Ultimately, of course, there is no substitute for carefully re-reading your own work. Or better yet, enlisting an editor. I know I could use one. As Tahoe Mom has said, “Everyone needs an editor.”