Saturday, March 29, 2014

**REVIEW** ProWritingAid (Writing Analysis Tool)

This is #1 of 2 posts I'm doing today because I found some software I wanted to mention. The first one is for writers of all kinds: technical, business, creative, students - whoever. It's called ProWritingAid. I tried it out all this morning, and here's my take on the pros and cons:

PROS

  • Analyzes writing from several different editing viewpoints - not just grammar and spelling. I counted 20 built-in reports, plus some customizable "house" reports.
  • Integrates into MS Word as an add-in.
  • Generates a report that can be viewed  alongside your Word document.
  • Has a 14-day trial download.
  • Has reasonable pricing for 1 to 3 year ranges. 
  • Can be used online(with limitations), without a download, for free.
  • It would clean that previous sentence of mine right up. This one too. Ha!
  • Giving feedback on the site is made easy.
  • Would be very useful for students, businesspeople, and technical writers.
CONS
  • I had trouble using the "Help" function.
  • I needed "Help" to understand some of the report information.
  • The add-in version requires an internet connection.
  • I had trouble trying to run a new report on a different document.
  • The lifetime pricing might seem reasonable, but what happens if the company goes obselete? (This happened with the original StoryBoard software creators.)
  • The more advanced functions are tricky to master.
  • Fiction/creative writers might get annoyed at some of the nit-picky rules.
  • One of the reports is based on some new-age-y stuff to do with NLP... ~shrug~
I left out this one nice (but slightly odd) Pro: being able to generate a "word cloud" from your document. This is mine from my (unfinished) manuscript

PRO! Will be doing lots of these.
Pretty cool, huh? You know that I'll be creating more of those whenever I have writer's block.

Overall, I think the Pros beat the Cons.

While I got very annoyed having to tell the software to ignore some words ("y'all" is a word, y'all!), I did find it helpful to know when I was over-using words or going heavy on the adverbs. I think this is probably the best (mostly free) tool I've seen for editing. 

One big caution to creative writers: don't get bogged down in all the various reports until you are finished with a rough draft. 

Forgive the cloddy writing in this post, I didn't run it through the software. Deal with it.

Peace
--Free

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