MG Writer’s Toolkit: Can basic editing software make you a better writer?

Editing

Yes, it can.

What is basic editing software? Basic editing software is software intended to proofread writing. It checks grammar, spelling, and other things such as use of adverbs or active or passive words.

What are examples of basic editing software? Word has a spell and grammar check. Other examples are: After the Deadline (checks spelling, grammar, misused words and suggests words to improve word flow.) EditMinion (checks spelling, grammar, word use, sentence length, use of adverbs, and weak words among other things.) Grammarly (does all of the above, but adds a synonym option to help improve word choice.) Hemingway (does the same and uses a color format to make changes stand out. It also gives a grade for readability.)

What are the CONS of basic editing software?

-It ‘s LIMITED. You may need to UPGRADE.

-It ‘s ROBOTIC. This means it does not think. It does not look to the context you use words in, so it may confuse words like their and there.

-It ‘s TIME CONSUMING. You have to copy and paste small sections in.

What are the PROS of basic editing software? Some of these are obvious.

-It’s FREE although you may choose to upgrade to more complex versions for a price.

-It catches ERRORS. That’s always good.

-It makes SEEING ERRORS EASY. Most of the programs underline or shade errors in a different color so they stand out even to tired eyes.

These PROS are not so obvious.

-It’s great for FIRST DRAFTS. Spot trends and break bad habits before they start.

-It’s great for REVISION. Looking at writing in small sections in different fonts makes you look at structure rather than content.

 What do I mean by structure? Take EditMinion for example. Once you copy and paste your writing into the box, it will give you a standard analysis page that looks like this.

Total Word count:

Adverbs

Weak words

Passive words

‘Said’ alternatives

End with preposition

Present tense

Past tense

Latin roots

Greek roots

Sentence Length Graph

Average Sentence:*words. Green = good, Yellow = caution.

Frequently Occurring Words-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Characters/Places

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think of these parameters as the basic tools for writing. Basic editing software makes sure you are using the right tools. It doesn’t care how fast you do the job or how pretty it looks.

Mastering the tools matters because it will make you a better writer and also helps you spot things that make other writers successful.

I put EditMinion to the test. I wanted to see if there was an average sentence length in the first 10 sentences of some popular middle grade books. This is what I came up with:

Literary contemporary: The Thing About Jelly Fish by Ali Benjamin. Average sentence length: 12 words. Longest sentence: 25. Adverbs: 0.

Literary classic: Charlotte’s Web. E. B. White. Average sentence length 7 words. Longest sentence: 14. Adverbs: 0.

Action adventure contemporary: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Chris Grabenstein, Average sentence length: 10 words. Longest sentence: 25.  Adverbs 0.

You can draw your own conclusions.

Happy editing everyone!


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