Did you have a lovely summer vacation, darlings? Since I finished my thesis and graduated my master’s program, I let myself take a break. But now is that important time when we get back on our bikes and zoom, zoom, zoom! The daily habit is the single most important tool at a writer’s disposal. A bad writer writing improves at a faster rate than a good writer at rest! As I’m preparing to do a short reading tonight, it seems like the perfect opportunity to explore writerly options for online assistance. If you have a little piece you’re looking to edit, revise, update, or improve (go, thesaurus, go) why not give these a try?
Amanda Shofner at The Write Life wanted us to know about these six : Grammarly, After the Deadline, AutoCrit, ProWritingAid, the HemmingwayApp, and WordRake. (If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll remember some of these.)
Grammarly takes over everything if you let it, so I suggest if you’re trying a bunch of tools out like I did, use this one last so you know which features are G and which are the others. It allegedly costs money but it’s working on my machine for free (no I didn’t do anything jinky, and no I didn’t enter my credit card information for a “free trial.”) It requires a log-in but allows a Facebook option. Not to brag or anything, but this tool is basically awesome. (Do I get awesome points for recommending it?) Maybe they get you hooked first and then ask for money…
After the Deadline, ProWritingAid, EditMinion, and the HemmingwayApp are all places online where you can dump your text and get instantaneous feedback right there. AtD gives commentary on spelling, grammar, and occasionally, style. PWA requires a user (or sign in with Facebook) and gives you the biggest bang for your bicycle, including categories like overused words, repeated phrases, plagiarism check, and sentence length. EM falls somewhere between those two. It’s lower tech than AtD but does more. Useful stuff, and additionally, a setting to tell you which of the words you used were invented by Shakespeare–I only used one of his, “bedroom.” EM also endears itself to my heart because it was created by Dr. Wicked, who you may recall also came up with the ingenious tool WriteOrDie (indispensable to Nanowrimo-ists everywhere). tHA does more than AtD but explains less, if that makes sense. Check them out and see what you think.
WordCounter and ClicheFinder are just what their names imply, and these functions are both part of PWA and EM. I got an error message for CF when I pasted my 2,000-word piece, but their example text works, so maybe there’s just a word limit.
AutoCrit costs $30/mo but it lets you try for free if you provide your name and email address. Now that I think about it, it’s probably so you can’t keep pasting new text and using it for free indefinitely. You also have to answer two questions but I guess you could lie if you wanted to. And I guess if you’re willing to continue creating new email addresses–anyway, this tool gives info that none of the others do, exciting stuff like how you work compares to published authors in various categories! For anyone with the spare change who is writing a great deal, this looks like it would be worth the cost.
WordRake costs, too. They let you do a 7-day free trial if you provide your email address. This is the only one that required a download, and you have to pick if you want to use it with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook, or both. So I guess if you don’t have those on your computer you’re out of luck. Once it’s installed you re-open your program, highlight your text, click “RAKE” and watch it appraise your work. Then you just accept or reject each change. I wonderful if the uninstall will be a headache–I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile Jane Callahan on Zapier explored fifteen different writerly tools, with a more comprehensive approach, from work flow to scheduling, collaborative writing to edition control. A few of the usual suspects appeared, namely Scrivener, along with the ever-popular HemmingwayApp and After the Deadline. There was even a Reverse Dictionary that might be of use to folks.
But the one that caught my attention was BlindWrite. Much like WrittenKitten and WriteOrDie, the concept is to help you write. WK gives you a kitten every 100 words, WoD blares horrible noises and flashes menacing red lights at you if you stop writing, and this new-to-me addition, BW, fuzzes out your words as you type so you can’t go back and edit until later. But don’t worry, you get all your words back, they’re still there, you just aren’t allowed to see them while you write. Just one more way to turn off your inner editor.
Until next time,
PS Images found by searching “writing bike” on Google images.