I use writing software—ProWritingAid, which works out at $50 a year (about £37). Is it worth the price? Absolutely.
Like any automated system, ProWritingAid doesn’t work perfectly. To take full advantage, you need some background in English grammar so you know what to accept and what to reject. Before using ProWritingAid, I subscribed to Grammarly previously, which is more expensive and not that great.
Grammarly suggested peculiar things and the only lesson I ever learned was the comma splice. (Guilty, a lot of the time—and for those of you who’ve never heard of it, a comma splice is where you use a comma to connect two independent clauses. You should use either a semi-colon, split the sentence into two or use a conjunction.) Grammarly also wanted to put commas everywhere.
ProWritingAid runs lots of reports on your writing—a grammar check, a writing style check, clichés and redundancies, corporate wording, sticky sentences and more. My favourite one is the overused words check, which is when you realise how repetitive your writing is. The writing style report is useful because it highlights adverbs so you can cut down their use and picks up every time you start three sentences in a row with the same word.
What ProWritingAid doesn’t have, unlike Grammarly, is the option to add your own words to the dictionary. This means that if you keep using slang in dialogue, for instance, it keeps picking it up. And it works best if you only check small amounts of text at a time rather than running your whole novel through it.
Other than that, ProWritingAid has improved my writing. The software picks up my bad habits and drums them out of me. When you rethink and rewrite sentences it’s terrific writing practice.
*Please note—this post isn’t sponsored by ProWritingAid.