Monday, 10 November 2014

2 Online Editing Programs You Need to Check Out


with Marilyn Forsyth

Let’s have a show of hands if you hate copy-editing.
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Yep, me too. Until I discovered online editing programs. Who knew they even existed or that there were so many of them? I’m a comparison shopper and after investigation I narrowed my favourites down to AutoCrit (AC) and ProWritingAid (PWA).










With the free versions of both programs you paste a block of your text into a box. This text (AC - no specified maximum, PWA - max. 1000 words) is instantly analysed for a raft of potential errors including slow pacing, repeated words/phrases, and cliches/redundancies.

Both programs have a huge range of such functions. Unfortunately, many are unavailable to use for free (e.g. ability to edit within analysis), although PWA does provide considerably more free features than AC’s free version.

By experimenting with the free versions, you get a pretty good grasp of how both programs present their findings, and for me Autocrit was easier to understand. (A video demonstrates how to interpret the results.) I really do like PWA’s provision of suggestions for alternatives, though.

Extremely useful extras that both programs include (in the paid-for versions) are:
*the ability to edit work within the analysis results
*an extensive library of articles and resources
*follow-up customer service



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As for cost, PWA is a fair bit cheaper than AC. The ProWritingAid Premium packages for unlimited access are:


*USD$35 for one year

*USD$55 for 2 years

*USD$70 for 3 years

*USD$120 for lifetime usage

*They also have plagiarism check 'bundles', for 10 up to 1000 checks, which cost from USD$5-$100.

AC provides 3 different packages, all with unlimited usage:

*Gold - USD$60 p.a. Up to 1000 words at a time

*Platinum - USD$96 p.a. Up to 8000 words at a time

*Professional - USD$144 p.a. Unlimited number of words

As authors, we all have different needs for our writing. I’ve actually purchased Autocrit and use it each time I finish a chapter (I can download unlimited words, but any more than 5000 at a time overwhelms me). I’ve found it a huge help, not only in tightening my manuscript but in making me a stronger writer because I’m now aware of the signs that mark me an amateur (damn those ‘ly’ words!).
To sum up, using software to polish and self-edit your manuscript will significantly cut down on the amount of time you spend copy-editing. However, it can only take you so far. You still need to do the rewriting, and nothing will ever replace the feedback you get from your crit partners (mine are the best).


I'd love to hear your thoughts on online editing programs. Are they a time-saving investment or do you prefer a real, live copy-editor?



This week I:

Love to Love Spring in my garden

 


 Love to Laugh at Halloween cuteness.


Dayton Daily News photos


(Yeah, yeah, I’m a week late but this was way too cute not to share.)


 







Love to Learn the names of any colour imaginable using Ingrid Sundberg’s ‘Colour Thesaurus’.



See more at ingridsnotes.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/the-color-thesaurus


28 comments:

  1. Hi Marilyn. Having a real-life copy editor is the best. But in those times when one is unavailable an online editor is great. I, too, discovered Autocrit and I'm very glad I did. It showed me how much I love certain words. Too much. Had to learn my writing can do without them. And be much better for it! Online editing is a great tool for improving your writing..

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    1. Hi Enisa! Seems I'm preaching to the converted with you. :) I love the 'overused words' feature and, call me weird, but I take great delight in fixing up those sections where I've used too many 'that's, or the same words too close together, etc. It gives me a huge sense of achievement when I reread and see how much tighter my writing is. Happy to see someone else likes to use these programs too.

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  2. Hi, Marilyn! Would an editing aid help me with the differences between the Queen's English and American English? I mean it's not just differences in terms like biscuits and cookies but (at least for me) it's also the use of quotes and other seemingly simple punctuation/grammar things.

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    1. Hi Dee, thanks for dropping by. Both Autocrit and Prowritingaid are American programs, so I'm thinking any changes they suggest would be in line with US spelling and punctuation. PWA has a grammar function but Autocrit doesn't. The best thing for you to do would be to check out the 'free' functions for both. They give a very clear idea of what both can do to help with your writing. Hope that helps. :)

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    2. Sure does help! Thank you. I will check both out.

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    3. Great, Dee! I think you'll enjoy having a play around with them. :)

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  3. A great post, Marilyn. I'm not so sure I would use software like this. I use Scrivener which has similar functions built-in. For my money, a human will always have more insights into a piece of writing. That's not to say software can't be helpful, but I'd never use it by itself. I guess it depends on how you use it as to how valuable it is.

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    1. I see what you're saying Georgia. For me, I think whether it's Scrivener, Autocrit, or ProWriting Aid, it's a valuable tool...because I'm not always able to find someone with the right 'editing' skills to review my work and as we all know you MUST present THE best version of your work to publishers, agents, and contests or be over-looked/thrown into the recycle bin.

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    2. I get your meaning, Georgia. I like uncomplicated aids that are not time consuming. Autocrit fits this criteria the best for me. And like Dee says, an online aid is a great option when a live editor is unavailable.

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    3. I totally agree, Georgia, that it depends on how you use programs like this. As I said, I use Autocrit after each chapter (before sending it to my crit partners) to make sure it's the best version possible at the time, and the girls always find other things to comment about to improve my writing.
      I'm definitely not advocating having programs like this as the sole copy-editing process to use (nothing beats personal human feedback), but AC certainly cuts down on the time I have to spend editing.

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  4. I'm going to have a go with these two freebies later in the week, but...just wondering aloud here...do you think using a computer to edit reduces the creativity or even the 'humanity' of a piece of writing? Will my work start to look less fresh, less my voice and more...mechanistic?

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    1. I was worried about this initially Dee but, honestly, I think being made aware of things like passages of passive voice or slow pacing in your writing makes you really look at your words with a critical eye, and that only makes me more determined to come up with fresh ideas for those sections. So I believe my voice is shining through even more than before.

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  5. Dee, I can assure you losing your voice will not be the case. The online aids are a great help in tighhtening your writing. They point out words repeated, overuse of adverbs, length of sentences, sentence structure if not quite right, etc. A great help in ensuring your writing is good enough to keep a reader's interest.

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Enisa. So do you use it after each chapter, as I do? Or can you cope with the 'unlimited word' allowance?

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  6. Hi Marilyn. Another great post. It can be so confusing trying to find the right type of editing system. I have AC currently and I like it a lot. No electronic system can replace a good editor but finding those problem areas can keep you from falling into the same writing potholes.

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    1. Hi Cassandra, thanks for visiting. Ahh, another AC user.
      You're so right about online editing programs being great for detecting those writing potholes we all fall into until we're made aware of them. For me it's the dreaded 'ly' words and passages of passive voice, but thanks to AC I'm becoming much better at fixing those problems before they occur (and making life easier for my crit partners, I hope :) ).

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  7. I use AC per chapter written. Manageable that way.

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    1. I once tried to do 8 chapters of a book I'd written years ago. Talk about needing to tighten my writing!!! LOL. At least I now know just how much I've grown as a writer.

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  8. Wow! I just tried the free version of ProWritingAid and while it was initially a bit daunting...in that I didn't want to make some of the changes (sometimes I can get very attached to my own words-LOL), it really helped tighten my work! Noting where I used passive voice and -ly words helped me see where I needed to add visceral cues and where I could rephrase to active verbs. Yay! This will make re-writes go sooooooo much quicker! Squeeeee!!!

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    1. So glad you tried it, Dee! Until you actually use one of these programs I don't think you can appreciate how much help they can be. Good on you!

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  9. I had a quick go at Autocrit and was surprised at the results. As much as you read and re read your work you can still miss duplications and excessive use. Keep up the good work with the Bloggs -very helpful for the novice

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    1. Hi! Thanks for dropping by, and thank you for the encouraging words about our blog. :) So glad that, as a novice, you have found this helpful. And that's the thing, I think even published writers could benefit from programs like AutoCrit and ProWritingAid to save their editors time copy-editing.

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  10. Wow, I had no idea about these programs, how interesting! Do you find them better than a 'human' crit partner, Marilyn?

    I also love the idea of that Color Thesaurus - will be looking for that. Thanks so much for your blog today!

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    1. Nice to see you here, Malvina. I only found out about these programs a few months ago and was intrigued enough to try them out.
      'Human' feedback is invaluable, but professional copy-editing can be expensive and crit partners often don't have the time to devote to looking for things like repeated words too close together or overuse of 'ly' words.
      Besides that, I find a sense of achievement in noting the lessening list of 'errors' each time I use Autocrit, because I've been made aware of my particular writing foibles.
      I love the Colour Thesaurus. :) So glad you like it too.

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  11. The Colour Thesaurus really intrigues me. Always trying to describe colours in a unique way. Now I have a wonderful guide.

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    1. Thanks, Enisa! The Colour Thesaurus is great, isn't it? Glad to be of help.

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    2. I agree! Terrific resource.

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  12. Your information is so much informative and valuable. Thanks
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