14 Days to Complete, Revise, Edit? — Pro Write Aid Challenge

Reading blogs can be dangerous to your writing time and your wallet. A certain blogger — you know who you are — wrote about using Autocrit, an online self-editing app. I checked it out since I have to admit that my self-editing skills, though pretty darn good, are far from perfect. I followed up with a search for similar apps and found Pro Write Aid. Without going into details right now (a review will be up and coming soon), after comparing their features and cost, I decided to try out Pro Write Aid. I don’t really like working online, so I was glad to see that PWA has a beta version that works directly with Scrivener. I haven’t looked deeply enough into the site to know whether it will be a purchasable standalone that you can download, or will be on the subscription plan that both apps use. I’d much rather own it than rent it, but that isn’t important for the moment.

The Scrivener beta downloaded without a hitch, and I worked through about half a chapter of Privileged Lives with it. After going through only two of the 19 reports, I’m sold. It’s incredibly rare for me to be enthusiastic about any software (I save that mostly for Scrivener), but I think I may be in love.

The interface is beautifully designed. When you click on an underlined word or phrase, a little blurb explains why your choice isn’t that great, and offers a suggestion, which you can click on and insert into the text, or you can click on “ignore” and the underline will go away. You can also tell it to kill the particular rule it’s using. Probably not a good idea.

The acid test was saving the changes I made. I closed out PWA after saying yes to whether I wanted to save the changes, and lo, there they were. I’m going to delve deeper into the program, making notes along the way, so I can report back.

The 14-day challenge? The beta is only good for 14 days, and then I would have to either use the free, more limited online version, or sign up for the premium version. I’m nearly finished writing the last chapter of Camp Expendable, and most of it has been through numerous edits, so this is a chance to get it publication-ready without any more goofing off. And it will be a thorough real-life test of the program.

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14 thoughts on “14 Days to Complete, Revise, Edit? — Pro Write Aid Challenge

  1. I didn’t even know those sort of add-ons existed. Can it turn my awkward prose into award-winning stuff? (I guess it would suggest I use something other than ‘stuff’.) Thanks for the heads up and good luck with your challenge. šŸ™‚

    1. I was vaguely aware they existed, but was a little too hyped on my editing abilities to look into it. Even though I’m well aware of some of my writing weaknesses. Boy, did that little bit of trying out PWA give me a kick in the ego. Award-winning? Probably not, but I bet “stuff” would be underlined.

  2. I am so sorry.

    I use AutoCrit precisely because it does not tell me how to make anything ‘better.’ I hated ProWritingAid because it attempted to do that, analyze my prose. And make suggestions.

    But that’s why there are different programs. I bought the lifetime AC – and really use it when writing (I always edit scenes after I’m finished with them, because I go in one step from rough draft to finished – I can do that because of my insanely controlling way or writing). I’ve put 3 million words through it, I think it said last time I looked.

    I would PREFER standalone. None of the programs I tried and like had that feature. I’ll live with the results. A bit over $100 would barely buy a few pages from most professional editors.

    YMMV

    It’s how you use them and what you need that determines which program will work for you, of course. We have such a variety of brains.

    1. Nothing to be sorry for. Your mention of Autocrit set me on the path and I’m grateful for that. Normally, I don’t like a program telling me what to do. I looked at a NanoWriMo sponsor’s word processor a couple of years ago, because he was touting how much better it was than Scrivener. It was highly structured in the very ways that Scrivener leaves you free, and there was no way I would be able to work with something like that. I like Pro Write Aid (so far, because its suggestions make me think about why I wrote something the way I did, and consider whether it needs to be changed. As I’ve said elsewhere, I have some weaknesses that I do know about and try to work on. PWA brings them to my attention, so I consider it a process of reinforcement. It’s also showing me things I’m not always aware of until they’re brought to my attention.

      When you think about it, we are so lucky to be writing at a time when there are a variety of helpers, and we can choose one that matches our personal working style.

      1. Mechanical helpers do take some of the drudgery out of it. They are still meant to be used by an educated writer who can learn to be better, not as replacements for an editor.

        I prefer self-editing. I don’t play well with others on MY work. Sigh.

        1. Yup. On both counts. Working through part of a chapter with PWA this evening, there were so many places where an inexperienced writer would have no idea how to deal with the suggestions, or the details that were marked as incorrect. Software can’t account for style or tone.

          Even if I could hire an editor, I don’t think I would. I’d rather upgrade my skills as I go along, because I’m the only one, ultimately, who knows what the book is supposed to be.

          1. “Iā€™d rather upgrade my skills as I go”

            Maybe it’s because we’re grownups, but this dependence on an editor that so many people insist on means the writer has a difficult time with the next book. A little work every time you run into problems, and pretty soon you’re solving them routinely.

            Point out the I use ‘get’ way too often – I don’t do it as much, and make each one justify its existence.

            This doesn’t mean replacing everything with the contents of the thesaurus – it means thinking about style and overuse of words and whether you need to use pronouns or even whether you need to rewrite completely.

            And of course editors cost lots of money – and you get what you pay for (if you’re lucky).

            My writing has improved in many areas by consistent overuse of my AC membership. I get 5-10 things fixed at a time (on MY computer – I don’t accept their offer of having my words live in their hands); then I create a new version – and put it through the wringer (almost said ‘ringer’ – caught myself).

            At our age, we learn efficiently.

            1. Maybe we learn efficiently because we’re more aware, through experience, of what we don’t know. I expect my writing will improve using PWA, just as yours has with your editor. I even read a statement somewhere that those programs are learning aids. I think they’re like teachers who keep red-marking the same mistakes until the student *gets* it. I’m already sensing how that repetition is changing my awareness. My overused word is “that,” but I started cracking down on it even before I found PWA.

                1. Not a problem with “that” or “which.” “I know that you’re going shopping,” “Another word that he could have deleted.” I don’t know what using it that way is called, but I’ve been breaking myself of it. Wordiness?

                  1. Wordiness it is. I do it sometimes – on purpose. I try not to do it ALL the time, or even often. But there is nuance that is only available if you lovingly put it in, and I need that for certain topics.

                    And one of my characters thinks that way.

                    1. If one of my characters talks that way, I’m okay with it. But not when *I* do it. Don’t know if you look at the post to read comments, but I wonder how narrow this can go. Single words with the longer ones broken by hyphens? Single letters?

  3. Single words is the answer. Very funny – and completely unintentional. Serendipitous? No hyphens, but after the single-word level, it removed the ‘Reply.’

    I have mine set at only three levels; I haven’t had to go past that. This is cute. Good to know.

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