I want to send out a strong caution of what writing software will not do:
- Replace an editor or proofreader
- Will not read human emotion
- Will not catch dropped words, wrong word use, etc.
- Will not guarantee you success as a writer
- Help you to better prepare your manuscript for an editor and proofreader
- Teach you how to strengthen your writing
- Make you more confident in your writing
- Office 365
- StyleWriter 4
- ProWriting Aid
Microsoft Office 365:
We are all familiar with Microsoft Word. If we don't use, we've at least heard of it. The reason I upgraded to the subscription service is two-fold:
- You get all the newest Office upgrades
- The subscription service includes the text-to-speech feature, which previous versions have done away with
The most important feature in this version of Word is the text-to-speech. What your eyes see on paper can sometimes deceive you. Hearing your manuscript read back to you by the program, tedious as it may be, will allow you to catch those little nuances that your eyes bypass. This is a key factor! Your manuscript must "read aloud" well, especially if you are writing for children.
I have heard pros and cons about this software. I will tell you that I love it and use it constantly! It does get a little buggy at times with Windows 8, but if you check your document chapter-by-chapter, it usually runs fine. I have found it gives me trouble when I have it review the whole manuscript.
I like this program because I find it to be more intensive than Microsoft Word's grammar check. Now this is strictly my opinion. Since this is a UK company, you will find there are a few differences between American English and British English. Despite that, I find it useful. It will grade your writing style as dreadful, fair, poor, good, and excellent. I always strive for an excellent rating, and will keep re-structuring my paragraphs until I achieve that goal. It also gives you different format styles from which to choose based on what you are writing, i.e. fiction, business letters, etc.
The more you use the program, the stronger your writing becomes. Think of it the same as exercising your muscles. The more you work out the easier your routines gets. This is the same principle.
The software is expensive, but they do offer a free trial download. I suggest you see how it works for you. If you don't like it, nothing lost. The software ranges from $90-$190.00 depending on the version you purchase. I have the pro edition and use it almost daily.
This is a web-based grammar program. It also comes with a plug-in, if you prefer, but I found the web works best for me. I don't use this software program until the end of the writing phase when I am editing. This program is great for picking up redundancies, which is my most used report.
This is a subscription program, which is $35.00 a year—definitely worth the price! If you purchase more than one year at a time they offer a discounted rate.
There is another program similar to this one that I have tried, but will not mention by name. I preferred the other program a little bit better, but not enough to warrant the steep price difference—$35.00 vs. $144.00.
Why use software?
As I mentioned before, I believe it helps you stay in tune with your writing and improves it over time by letting you see your weak spots.
Another important aspect that I feel strongly about is the cleaner you make your manuscript before handing it off to an editor to do their job, the more they will be able to help you. Make your manuscript the best so your editor can give you their best.
Software will never be able to read emotion and feel your words. It gives you recommendations based on programming, but it is up to you, the writer, to be sure the sentence ultimately moves your reader. Do not let any program strip your voice. For example, I write for children. In my dialog, I am constantly using the word/fragment, really? The program is not happy with me when I do. However, this is a child's voice, this is how they speak, which is why I need to follow my instincts and be able to put aside what the program is telling me.
Finally, do not make the mistake of thinking any of these programs replace a good editor. An editor offers what no program can: the human eye, feeling, and experience.
I hope you found this article helpful and it has given you a couple more tools in your arsenal. It is our job as authors to put forth our best efforts. Remember, the world needs quality literature.
Wishing you success,