ProWritingAid- A Great Editing Tool for Authors
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I don’t know about y’all, but I am not a grammar expert. Rules about commas, semicolons, etc. tended to go over my head for the longest time. Overused words were sprinkled throughout my work like a healthy dose of salt at the dinner table. And my sentences were often choppy and short. I needed help for sure. With so many tools around for writers to address problems like this, it can be overwhelming to figure out which tools work and which don’t. Me? I chose ProWritingAid. (Full confession, this is an affiliate link because we love them that much!) At first, I went with this app because the company had a promo deal going with Our Write Side. I’ve stuck with them because I’ve learned a lot about my writing, grammar rules, and how to self-edit better through using it. Here’s my breakdown of this tool’s pros, cons, and how ProWritingAid can make you a better writer.
The first thing to understand is that ProWritingAid can be accessed two different ways. ProWritingAid has an online
version. Just go to their website and paste a copy of your text into their editor and off you go. It is also available as a download to use offline.
This leads me to the next nice feature. ProWritingAid is available for multiple applications from Scrivener and Word to Google Docs. And, ProWritingAid is available on Apple and PC. I love the fact I can use this program no matter what platform I’m working on. One thing to note is that for Word it is a plug-in available right in the program while Scrivener has a separate app on your desktop.
Now that we’ve covered how to find ProWritingAid, let’s talk for a minute about the reports. There are 25 different reports you get once you run your text through it. Don’t worry, though, you don’t need to use all of them. ProWritingAid separates them so you can look at only the reports you choose. Sentence length, overused words, pronoun check, consistency check, and grammar are some of my favorite ones. Click on the report you want to see and ProWritingAid takes you through each highlighted instance it flagged as well as suggestions to fix the issue. Some common sense will be necessary as not all the suggestions make perfect sense. This is a program after all and does not understand the meaning of your words. The best part is each item flagged is accompanied by a brief explanation of why it was flagged. This has helped me immensely in learning this technical stuff better.
My favorite report so far is the overused words report. I never realized how bad I was with using the same words over and over. At least not until ProWritingAid highlighted the issue for me. What I love about this report is that it flags all instances of the overused word and suggests how many instances of that word should be changed. This helps me because I can change the overused word evenly as I go through revising the piece.
Another one I am in love with is the grammar report. Like I said earlier, I am not a technical person. All these nit-picky rules around periods, commas, placement of punctuation in relation to the rest of the text, etc. go over my head. But, ProWritingAid has helped me through sheer repetition of the rules to learn them better. I get hands-on examples of the things I wrote of where I screwed up and how to fix the highlighted issues. Even things like passive voice are addressed.
Finally, I found ProWritingAid to be intuitive right out of the gate. So far, there’s been just one report I’m still struggling to wrap my head around, and that’s the glue index. I get the general idea is to make sure each word pulls its weight and isn’t bogging down the reader. However, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to apply the information in the report to my writing.
Oh, let me add one more thing. ProWritingAid can be used for academic writing, creative writing, and anything in between. I appreciate this feature because I can use it for my articles here on OWS, stuff I write for work, and for my creative writing endeavors.
Yep. There are limitations to ProWritingAid. I briefly mentioned this one already—it’s just a program. I think it’s a good program, but being a program means it will not be right every single time. Sometimes I want a sentence to be longer than what is generally accepted. Or, I’m breaking a grammar rule on purpose. ProWritingAid doesn’t get these things, so it will flag them as an issue. I can skip through these occurrences easily though. Just make sure you take the time to review each flag you get to make sure you understand the options being presented.
A few of the reports have a steeper learning curve, like the glue index I mentioned. That means either some trips to the ProWritingAid website to help learn the reports or skipping them. I’d suggest learning the reports because they have made me a better writer. It can get frustrating, though, trying to figure some of this out.
Another minor issue is that this is a paid subscription tool. It’s an annual premium of $50 for 1 year. Multiple year subscriptions give you a discount on the per year rate. This can be a killer for some people. For me, the subscription was worth it because I found the explanations in ProWritingAid to be easier to follow than other tools. The premium may not be for some people, or some people may not be able to afford that kind of premium. There are other good tools out there that don’t charge a premium to use.
The last thing I’ve noticed about ProWritingAid is that occasionally it will hiccough and flag something as an issue when there’s no issue. The biggest time I’ve seen this with is in the sentence length report. It has flagged something as too long, but when I check the flagged spot and find two sentences, but ProWritingAid has missed the period. Again, it’s not a flawless perfect system.
Overall, ProWritingAid has helped me learn to be a better writer. I’m getting the hang of grammar rules that used to perplex me. My sentence length issues are getting better. I’ve even improved in my overused words, though there’s still ground to cover. How do I know these things? When I first submitted, I’d have a ton of red ink, so to speak, on my draft to edit before publication. More recently, the amount of red ink can be measured in pints, not gallons. That tells me this tool has taught me to be a better writer. Is it the only tool around? Nope. It is a worthwhile tool to have that really can improve your writing though. I know it has for me.
Don’t forget, you can purchase through our affiliate link, which helps us keep providing great free content to you. Let us know if you have any questions about ProWritingAid in the comments below.
Stacy Overby is a child-chasing, teenager-wrangling, author and poet who hangs out in Minnesota with her family when she’s not writing. She, her work, and her social media links can be found at www.thisisnothhitchhikersguide.com.
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