I’ll be stuck in the writer’s cave soon with yet another round of edits. It’s a part of the writing process, though not always the fun part for most authors. It can be tedious and often boring, but it’s necessary. Many writers, like myself, can’t afford a professional editor or can only afford a small amount of an editor’s time. There is a way to do it yourself and reduce the cost when hiring a professional: editing software.
Using software to help you edit your manuscript isn’t an easy cheat. You’ll still need to do the work of re-writing and you’ll still need your beta readers. However, editing software can make self-editing a little less worrisome.
There are a lot of different online options, both free and paid.
I’m happy to say I’ve found 3 online self-editing programs that are free (or inexpensive). I use all three together because each program catches something the others miss.
I use EditMinion first because it highlights adverbs, weak words, said replacements, sentences ending prepositions and passive voice in different colors. It wasn’t until I ran my first couple scenes through this free editing software that I realized I was in love with adverbs and had a real problem with passive voice.
Next I use Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool.* This free editing software catches things like sticky sentences (sentences with too many glue words), vague and abstract words, overused words, repeated words and phrases, complex words and pacing. Like passive voice, I have a real fondness for sticky sentences, and this program finds those with ease. There’s also the Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool paid version* with lots of extra goodies and they’ve recently come out with a download that works with Scrivener files.
Last of all, I use ClicheCleaner. It’s great for finding cliches and redundancies. You can download a free demo version that lets you scan up to 20 documents before needing to pay $12.95 to do any more. I downloaded ClicheCleaner because I always thought I had issues with using too many cliches. After using this free editing software, I was surprised to find I don’t have a big problem after all. Of course, even one can be too many.
I personally like using SmartEdit for the same reason I’ve used EditMinion. It points out adverbs, weak words and other problems in different colors. SmartEdit also allows you to set up your own variables to search for those issues you know you have in your writing.
You can download SmartEdit for a free 10-day trial if you like to try before you buy, which I do. The best thing about this software is that it is super inexpensive as far as paid editing software goes. The standalone version is $67, while the Word add-in is $77. Buying the bundle gets you an awesome discount of $109 (that’s $44 less than buying each alone).
If you’ve got the money, you might be interested in AutoCrit Editing Wizard. I didn’t find the demo useful because the 1,000 words I chose always came back with an error. That could have been because my WIP is a fantasy with mages and magical cats who use incantations the software couldn’t read. If that’s the case, it makes me wonder just how useful this software is in its full version.
Also, in order to use AutoCrit for more than just 1,200 words per day (that’s 400 words 3x per day) and receive more than 3 reports, you have to spend a lot of money. There are 3 memberships: Gold (1,000 words for $47), Platinum (8,000 words for $77) and Professional (100,000 words for $117). You get more goodies the more you spend, but if I’m going to spend that much money for my WIP I think I’d rather hire a human being.
Whether you choose to pay for your self-editing software or use a free version, remember that a program cannot replace a human being. The great news is, after running your WIP through the programs and correcting all those errors, you may find you can afford a human editor after all.
How do you self-edit your manuscript? What paid and free editing software have you used?
*While I am a Pro Writing Aid affiliate and these are affiliate links, this in no way changes how I feel about the software. I personally used both SmartEdit, which I am not affiliated with, and Pro Writing Aid Editing Tool prior to becoming an affiliate and will continue to use both in the future. I fully endorse all the programs on this post because I believe in their merit as writing tools for better writing.