I recently got into a conversation with my fellow authors about what editing tools they use and love.

It was an interesting conversation that led me to assess why I use what I use. The ones mentioned most were Autocrit, Grammarly and ProWritingAid.

I use ProWritingAid, I used to use Grammarly, and I checked out Autocrit when I got curious. All three say they make your writing better, but which one is best?

AutoCrit

AutoCrit gives you interesting feedback and allows you to compare your stats to famous authors. You can compare your manuscript side-by-side with a bestselling author and see how they differ.

It’s good at pointing out problems, but doesn’t provide a lot of suggestions for solutions.

I did really like that I can tailor my feedback by genre or bestselling author, and found its feedback interesting and helpful.

Access unlocks lots of free courses, downloads, and options for paid classes and feedback.

Their marketing is cute and they also boast a community of writers to help you along your way. I’ve tried a lot of writing communities and groups and I can’t imagine just posting being stuck with a scene to a group of writers completely unfamiliar with my work, so the community aspect isn’t for me.

I do best when I can get specific feedback from specific writers for specific things, people who’re familiar with my writing style and genre.

I also liked the tense identification, passive voice, overused and repeated word reports.

What I didn’t like is that AutoCrit isn’t built to use as you go.

Once you finish a draft, you need to then upload it into their website, review its feedback/suggestions, and then return to your word processor software and find/fix each instance.

ProWritingAid

Where ProWritingAid excels is pointing out issues you have as well as giving you options for how to solve it.

They have plugins for Word, Google Docs and Scrivener, which allows you to see the editing suggestions in real time and make changes on the go.

The critique tool, which can review a chunk of 4,000 words, does a good hob of understanding the events, critiquing the delivery, scene setting, dialogue, tension, POV, etc. This tool can be a bit complementary and doesn’t focus on constructive feedback, but the other tools in ProWritingAid provide that.

The interface does have a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not too bad.

Once you figure it out, parsing through the different scores you get for different areas of writing helps you to go through your text more efficiently.

With the tools, you can easily see where you’re doing well and what areas you need to focus on. One my my favourite tools is Glue Index, which indicates how sticky your text is to read, it also assesses Readability Grade, Sentence Variety, Complex Paragraphs, Passive Voice, Emotion Tells, etc.

You can dive into each report to get more details and have the affected text highlighted.

It can be a bit slow at times, and you might have to reload it after making a lot of changes to prompt it to check again, but ProWritingAid is what I use because it gives me suggestions on which areas to improve.

That said, it can process 80,000 words with a high level of detail. I tend to use it mostly on a per scene basis though.

It also isn’t overbearing, the suggestions it gives are not meant to change my voice or style.

Some features, like suggestions for rephrasing long sentences, I don’t often even bother with, because I have a strong voice and clear style, and those suggestions tend to either miss the point of how I’m trying to say something or they’re just nonsensical. Shorter, yes, but nonsensical.

ProWritingAid and AutoCrit have a lot of the same features (overused words, dialogue tags, adverb identifiers, passive voice, grammar and style checks) so it’s really a matter of which platform you prefer and when/how you like to edit.

I wish I could clearly say that I liked one or the other, but each appealed to me in different ways.

I use ProWritingAid because of the Scrivener plugin and I’ve been happy with it.

It gives me food for thought when I’m writing/editing while still making me make the final decisions.

Grammarly

It’s been a while since I’ve used Grammarly, and I switched from Grammarly to ProWritingAid precisely because I needed a software that was designed for manuscripts and fiction writing.

Grammarly was alright for everyday writing, like emails, blog posts etc.

But I often found the suggestions overbearing and accepting them meant significantly changing my style and voice.

Sometimes—and this is one of the benefits of Grammarly (for instance if you’re writing an email and need it to be on point, but you’re a chaos gremlin)—I ended up not even sounding like myself any more.

Grammarly was a great tool for cleaning up everyday writing, but didn’t handle the more abstract thought in fiction writing well, constantly pushing me to revert back to a more formal style of writing (even when using the creative writing tool).

Grammarly also maxed out at around 20k, which means you’d have to divide up your manuscript into chunks for editing.


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