Fight your crutch words and edit without an headache.

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Today, I’m going to share my love/hate relationship with writing software. ProWritingAid in particular, though I did try Autocrit, Ginger, the Hemingway editor and a few others.

Whatever you do, don’t revise after midnight. First drafts yes, but don’t feed your writer’s obsession for revisions too late in the evening, or your mind — and your revised work — will look like this:

I bought ProWritingAid one calm evening, ready to revise the hell out of my first chapter. I had edited it to the best of my abilities, and I was desperate to develop a process, to find the secret formula that would make my writing better. I loved the idea of a software, because it was inexpensive, easy to use, and my scientific mind loves numbers.

I’d used the free version at length, so I was familiar with the “Style” and “Grammar” tabs.

“Style” is my favorite tab. It addresses adverbs, passive voice, emotion tells and provides readability enhancements, but don’t accept all the changes blindly. You wouldn’t go into a ditch because your GPS said so, right?

The “Overused words” section is my second favorite, and it allows you to get rid of crutch words.

My crutch words, to name a few, are:

  1. Just
  2. Even
  3. Something
  4. Maybe
  5. Very
  6. Every verb that means look/glance/glare, my characters love to look at stuff

The “Repeats” option helps spot repetitions. You can change redundant nouns and verbs for better ones, or cut them altogether.

I spent hours perfecting the first chapter of my novel, doing the tabs in order, when I finally arrived at “Pronouns.”

Here’s a screen capture of what I got:

Oh no! No! No! NO!

Remember, I had devoted hours into revising a mere 2000 words. There are a lot of compromises to be made when you argue with a writing software, but 60% was a no brainer. It was official…

I sucked.

I’d never realized so many of my Chapter One sentences started with pronouns, so I had to start all over again.

My husband came to see me around 1:00 am. “Honey, you should go to bed, you work tomorrow,” he said.

Passionate as a warrior on a campaign, I replied, “I can’t, I need to kill my pronouns.”

And kill my pronouns I did, until the wee hours of the night.

I woke up the next day and re-read the chapter. Sure, it was better in a sense, and I had discovered one of my writer’s sin, but I’d axed pronouns for the sake of axing them, and ended up with convoluted sentences and awkward phrasing.

I love ProWritingAid. In fact, I used it on this blog entry, but I no longer use it after midnight.

AND… I use the pronouns tab first.

How do you revise? Do you use a software, and, if so, which one?

What is your worst sin in writing, and how do you cope with it?