Editing transforms crappy first drafts into polished stories. To be a good writer, you must be a good editor. I’ve written extensively about how to edit your story, but today, we’re doing something different. Today, I’ll show you a program that does the editing for you.
It’s called Pro Writing Aid.
Since I brought Pro Writing Aid seven months ago, it’s become essential to my editing process. ProWritingAid is a piece of automatic editing software. No, it won’t write your story, but it will plug into Word and run over 20 types of reports on your writing. These reports highlight issues like:
- Passive voice
- Repeated words
- Lack of sentence variation
- Grammar mistakes
And more! (At the time of writing, there’s 25 reports you can run.) Here’s an example of the software’s ‘passive voice’ report on an early draft of Fight of the Cargo Hauler:
This helped me change these sentences to the active voice (i.e. They’d booted him out of the academy in his first year). Off the top of my head, I can’t remember if either of these paragraphs made it into the final draft, but either way, Pro Writing Aid’s suggestions made my sentences more powerful!
Why I love Pro Writing Aid:
I love to write concise, simple prose. By using Pro Writing Aid to cut redundancies, eliminate passive voice and shorten sentences, my stories become tight, condensed and punchy. Just the way I like ’em.
What’s more, I love the reassurance it provides. Now, I’m not saying it’ll pat you on the back and make you tea on those days where writing is tough. Instead, it gives you a third-party, unbiased opinion on your writing. This lets you know (on a technical level, at least), if your writing works.
I love the software so much I even wrote an article for Pro Writing Aid about using active reading to improve your writing!
How I use Pro Writing Aid:
I typically use the software after my second draft. Here’s an outline of my editing process, showing where PWA fits in:
- First draft – aka the ‘vomit draft,’ where the focus is on spewing words onto the page as fast as possible.
- Second draft – edit for big picture things like plot, character and theme. Aim is to have the ‘story’ fixed down.
- Third draft – once all the macro stuff is sorted, I use Pro Writing Aid (and my own judgement) to improve my writing’s style. This involves removing clichés, shortening sentences and cutting fluff.
- Fourth draft – proofreading time. All big issues are sorted and it’s time to cut the word count and check for typos. Final draft should be ready after this.
Of course, this process changes for every story, but as a rule I use Pro Writing Aid to improve the micro elements of my writing (phrasing, sentence structure, readability, etc.).
Effective editing is all about objectivity. Pro Writing Aid gives you this objectivity by highlighting issues you never noticed. Sure, not all of its suggestions are useful, but from personal experience the software has always enhanced my stories. It’s now part of my editing toolbox, and I hope it’ll improve your stories too! What’s more, the free online version has most of the functionality of the paid version, so go on and give it a shot :).
(Full disclaimer: links to Pro Writing Aid are affiliate links. If you buy the software using my link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Believe me, though: I’m not doing this to make a quick buck. I’m doing this because PWA has helped me out so much and I want it to help you too!)
What are your thoughts on Pro Writing Aid and other editing programs? Have you used an editing program before? Will you give Pro Writing Aid a shot? I’d love to hear your experiences!