Writing Editor Programs – a help or a frustration?

My writing productivity is increasing. Which is awesome! But does create a few issues. One of the biggest is springing for an editor.

writing helpI fully believe every book needs a good edit by someone other than the writer. It is amazing how much can be overlooked, especially when you are the author and have read, reread, dreamed, edited, and rewritten a paragraph a multitude of times. No matter the tricks used to force yourself to read. every. word. something will be missed. Just accept it and find an editor.

But like most indie authors, my writing doesn’t exactly pay the bills. Not even its own bills like the cost of an editor, though every release I’m getting closer to that. But now the releases are starting to come closer together. Which means I need to hire an editor more often. And that means pulling money from somewhere else since the writing doesn’t pay for the editor. Hmmm… bad cycle!

I could find a cheaper editor but that would be hard. I tend to hunt through Twitter and Goodreads for editors offering discounts, check to see if I like how they edit a sample and go from there. I could run a Kickstarter or Pubslush campaign to raise money… but those take a lot of promo which eats into writing time – and aren’t always successful.

What about a cheaper way to self-edit like a computer program? I have a writer friend who uses ProWritingAid before sending his work to his editor, making it as clean as possible before paying for the professional. He highly recommends it and the tactic sounds… logical. And maybe for small things, like short stories, maybe all that needs to be done?

I have to edit anyway, so I thought I’d give it a go.

word cloud

There are a lot of editing programs on the market. Heck, even Word offers basic tips. So choosing what level to invest or which one can be a stumbling block. But, with a recommendation in my pocket, I went to ProwritingAid. Through a fortuitous tweet, I even managed to snag a week of the professional version for free!

– The online version is free, but once you play around with the site it is easy to see the pro version is the way to go. You can use the pro version in Word or Google Docs (for us poor Mac users). Plus there are limits to the word length you can edit at any given time, the reports and editing are NOT that user friendly online, and to use the setting for creative writing setting rather than general, you need the pro version. –

The results…

Does a program replace a human editor? No, not really. Nuances of style, choosing when to break a rule, or which rule to follow, are not something a computer can be programed to determined. Experience and a feel for current writing trends cannot be replicated by AI… at least not yet and not in my recent experience editing a short story. And is a necessary word was left out or mistyped into another word, well a computer program does not pick that up. It cannot read for semantics.

prowritingaidBut it did help. Grammar errors and misspellings were caught. And the multiple reports were great to get me thinking. The program outlines the frequency of used words and lets you know if it is too high. Uses of passive voice are highlighted in another report and if it is considered high, a goal for the number of instances to reduce is given. A goal! How can you not want to reach that? I found myself really delving into the challenge of improving my word use and tightening my writing style.

Will I use ProWritingAid again? Yes! Will I still use an editor too? Absolutely.

What about you? If you have an awesome, rarely-fails (for no editor is perfect either) writing program, please let me know! I’d love to hear about it!

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Written by: Autumn

Autumn (also known as Weifarer) is an indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical! She is currently on the road in North America in a Four Wheel Camper along with her husband, Adam, and Cairn terrier, Ayashe.

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