After reading the excellent article from Lindsey Flinch Bedder on self-editing (to which I contributed a lot of hot air), I decided to try some of her suggestions. I’m still working on Vanessa’s Affair. Grammar Check cleared up a few issues like “and I” instead of “and me”. Sticking it into The Writer’s Diet yielded nothing but lean results. It was time for something new, so I stuck it into Pro Writing Aid.
I discovered a plethora of problems. Luckily for me, there’s a handy summary of them. Now, this is a 10k text, so it takes a moment for the software to crank through it. It’s nice that there’s no word limit on it. I started at the beginning of the list, Overused Words. I stayed at that point for a while. Dear god, I never thought I was so dull, but it would seem I repeated myself endlessly.
That finished, I went on tackle other concerns:
- Cliches and Redundancies (cleaned up a few good things)
- Sentence Length (I’ve been keeping an eye on that, and it seems with editing I’m also breaking up some of my longer sentences).
- Diction Report (catches dangling participles, which I only fret about when I’m trying to sound archaic)
- Vague and Abstract Words (helps track down words like really and some)
- Sticky Sentences (probably my favorite feature, it highlights the stones we trip our readers with, those sentences that read like a box of rock)
- Consistency (looks like it would yell at if you if had a penchant for the British grey, like me, but it doesn’t know what an em dash is)
Left out of this list are the Complex Words Report and Alliteration Report (I have happy little green check marks, not angry red Xs, for those). On the side, there’s also a host of other little scuppers one can click on. I like both the Repeated Words and Phrases and also Phrases Summary. On my list was “moving in and out of her”, which I used twice. A startling revelation, I know.
Well, I leave you all to head off a play with this software some more. I’ll let you know how the new draft comes out. I’d mentioned previously sending out something for the Geek Love Anthology, and I finally got my rejection notice. I’m not really bummed. They received 300 stories, and accepted 30. I’m wondering what to do with it now though, as it’s a decidedly odd tale, titled Cthulhu Loves Geordi, about gay tentacle love.
T. W. Dittmer said:
Nice job on this. Very informative. Thanks for doing it. Gawd, I like smart people.
I do my best. Really though, Lindsey deserves the credit on this. I wouldn’t have heard of the site were it not for her.
Theo Fenraven said:
SmartEdit is a free program that highlights overused words and phrases. It doesn’t fix them, doesn’t even tell you where they are (that’s what Word’s search function is for!), but it does tell you what they are. I’ve become so hyper aware of overused words and phrases, I barely use them anymore.
As an editor, these are some things that make me go nuts:
the junk words: that, even, just, well and so (often found at beginning of dialog sentences), Sometimes, back is overused as well.
phrases like ‘rolling/rolled my eyes’ (so overused, I can barely stand to type it in my own story anymore) and any kind of raised eyebrows. That last one doesn’t bother me much unless it’s used ten times in forty sentences.
I often feel one eyebrow gesture is good per 5,000 words or so.
Junk words are jerks. And they do just clutter stuff up. It’s funny you mention dialog, because a lot of my sticky sentences are dialog, as they’re full of useless words.
Heh. Theo, I’ll say it again … I’m so glad I found you.
Michelle Proulx said:
Very cool! I’ll definitely check out Pro Writing Aid. If it’s as good as you say it is, I have a feeling I’ll be using it a lot.
I’m still playing around with it. There’s a lot there.
Maddie Cochere said:
Thanks, Antoinette. I’ll definitely give this program a try.
You’re welcome. I know it’s kept me busy.