I’ve mentioned a couple of times how I edit, and so on. I’m convinced that no matter how much work you put into it, there’s always something to do.
Up to this point, I’ve been doing a couple of things:
- I read everything aloud. If it sounds weird, it probably is. It also helps catch simple errors.
- I’ve been using Grammarly to help proof things. If you’ve never used used it, it’s pretty sharp. While there is a novel setting for it, I still think it’s geared mostly towards the business and academic set. The good news is it catches a lot of stuff. It’s certainly helped rein in my love affair with the comma.
- Let someone else read it, especially another author. Boy will they catch the stuff. For instance, if you put two spaces after a period, you might as well admit your over forty. Man is that going to take some reprogramming on my part. I’m sure my old typing teacher will reach maximum RPMs in her grave if I ever manage to make the change. I also learned I like having someone nod, and I use the word “said” a little more than I should.
All that in mind to turn out a good product. Enter Hemingway Editor. First, the price is reasonable. You can’t beat $19.00 for a year. I installed it on my workstation, and went to work. So here we go.
When you open and import or copy and paste something in, this is what you get:
So far, so good. I’m still playing with it, so forgive me if I can’t answer some questions you might have, but a quick explanation of some of it.
At the very top is the name of the program. Right below it, we see Readability. Notice I’ve got a grade of 2. This is a little misleading because we live in a society where higher is better. What this is telling me is that whatever I’ve written, demands that the reader have a reading level of second grader. Now that sounds almost like an insult. After all, aren’t we supposed to use fancy words! Not if you want your reader to understand it and enjoy it. All that this means is you don’t have to be Lit Major to be able to read this.
Right below that is what’s wrong here.
I’d like to see the algorithms they used to determine the number of adverbs and passive voice terms used, but you see they have a goal number in mind. Anything below that number is “Good.” That said, if you can figure out a better way of saying things, then do so.
I found that phrases were almost always my fault. There are certainly better ways of saying things, and this can help bring them to your attention.
Below that has to do with sentences. As I mentioned, I have a love affair with the comma. I will take a sentence and keep tossing in commas till I have a sentence a paragraph long. Of course we don’t want to do that to our readers. A sentence strung together like that tends to make people go cross eyed. What it’s telling you is to take a look at this and fix it. The bottom line means you’ve got some real problems. Maybe you’ve got a word in there that changes the meaning of the sentence. Maybe you never finished the thought. Either way, fix it.
Now, things I don’t like the program. First, it’s a standalone program. Grammarly integrates with Word, and you can turn it on and off at will. This one, you import what you want to look at. It also changes the appearance. Indentions disappear, and it has annoying habit of tossing spaces between paragraphs you probably don’t want.
Where it gets annoying is when you’re finished, and you import whatever you worked on back into Word, you need to cleanup what it put in.
It also doesn’t see typos, misspellings, or reveal your use of punctuation.
Also, don’t try tossing your whole novel on it. I did that and I brought the thing to a crawl. About eight thousand words is the most you want to throw at it.
I imagine with some research and maybe employing the time honored tradition of RTFM (Read The Freaking Manual), I might find a way to fix some of my complaints.
That said, am I going to ask for my money back? No. It’s a tool, and if it helps me fix one sentence that would make a reader balk, then it’s worth it. But I still need to use it in conjunction with tools in Word, Grammarly, and most importantly, people who are the ones who will read whatever I write.
Thanks, Joy, for pointing out some of my more glaring mistakes.