How to Use Writing and Editing Tools the Right Way
Writing tools have come a long way, from the type writer to the word processor all the way to modern computers with modern software. Now, there are many different types of software that writers can use, and there are many different benefits they gain from each one of them. For example, you can use Scrivener Writing Software to help organize your book, write scene by scene, chapter by chapter, and you can also do many other little things that writers from as recently as 50 years ago could not do. There is Grammarly, the most popular tool that checks and helps you correct grammar mistakes – as you write! Many writers will agree that this can save many editing hours. Moreover, the Hemingway editor, which helps you keep your writing concise and precise, recommending how to improve the style of your writing to appear as good as Hemingway’s. Microsoft Word, which many writers use to write, keeps adding more editing tools, from spelling to grammar and style. It appears that we live in the golden age of writing, and on one hand, that’s very true. However, on the other hand, there is always the chance you might be leaning on these tools so much that you are not using them the right way anymore. Below, we will take a look at possible issues that can pop up when you are using different writing and editing tools.
1. Hemingway Editor limits your style
Hemingway Editor is very simple to use, and it’s also free – the online version of it anyway. You can just copy and paste your text to edit it, or you can write directly on the website tool. When you’re done, you will see that some of your sentences are highlighted, as well as some words. The legend on the right side quickly lets you know what each color highlight means. Green highlights passive sentences, blue is for adverbs. Red sentences are very long and complicated, while yellow ones are complex – but not very difficult to understand, and most often, can be split in two without changing the context.
However, is that really how you wish to write all the time?
There is a certain beauty in long sentences, as long as they are clear and concise. You can exercise style better when you strive for longer, but understandable, sentences. What your readers will enjoy is not straightforward, and writing in short, clear sentences will only put a limit on your creativity if you constantly rely on the Hemingway for editing. Should passive voice always be avoided? Often, it is not important who is doing something. Often, importance falls on the object, and on what’s done to it, even more so when it’s a person. The same falls for adverbs. Using them way too much is not okay, especially if they are not necessary. But, often, you need an adverb to give a concise description of an action.
2. Grammarly is not foolproof
Anyone who has used Grammarly has noticed that Grammarly is not foolproof. Often, misspelled words will not be underlined in red, and often, when you fix one of the advanced issues, another solution comes up that would change the context of your sentence if you accept it. Moreover, grammar solutions will only cause more grammar issues, so that you need to think about what went wrong, or whether something was wrong in the first place before you used the solution, which can be very confusing.
Word of advice: read a grammar book cover to cover and indulge in writing exercises. You can and should use Grammarly, it’s a very good tool, however, do not rely on it to fix your writing. Long term, learning will bring you greater benefits and improve your writing.
3. Microsoft Word wants your style to be elegant
Microsoft Word is infallible when it comes to spelling – that’s very true. However, if you choose all the proofreading options that include style and grammar, your document will be riddled with words and sentences underlined in red. Why? Because, like the Hemingway editor, Microsoft word dislikes the passive voice. Also, Microsoft word dislikes genre specific language, as well as incomplete sentences, and conversational style of writing. Idioms, slang, common phrases get underlined as errors. If you rely on it too much, it can put great limits on your style.
You might think you are not relying on it, and that when Word underlines your short, but poignant sentence, it does not affect you. But, the underlining signifies a mistake, and even if you try to ignore it, it will have a long term negative effect that limits your writing. Word of advice: deactivate proofreading options, even if you tend to misspell words. That way, you can improve your spelling and writing all on your own. Then, once your first draft is completed, turn it on again. This way, you will get the editing benefits without putting limits on your writing.
4. Scrivener can be distracting
Scrivener is considered a writing workshop. It enables you to do so many different things in just one window. You can have your research documents opened on one side, with a writing window on the other. You can write and check at the same time that you are not making any research related errors. You can create chaos as you write, and then make it into a coherent whole. You can add pictures – no more wondering what Bob that appeared in Chapter 2 looks like – you can simply open a character tab, where you can get Bob’s bio, and a picture of what he looks like. It sounds like every writer’s dream.
Except, when you stop writing to pull up a research document, or to look at a picture of what the character was supposed to look like is very distracting – even when you do it on Scrivener. When your research file is opened on the side, while you write on the other half of your screen – is that really helpful? Depending on the nature of your writing process and your writing methods, it can be. But, it can also be quite distracting. Even if you only stop to look at a piece of information from the research document – you are still stopping to look at something else. Alas, the split in your focus is not avoided, even if the process is faster.
5. Becoming dependable
The worst consequence of leaning too much on these tools is becoming dependable. You will not improve upon your grammar if a program is constantly looking out for you. You will not improve upon style if a program is constantly putting creative limits to your words and sentences. You will not write your book faster if you use Scrivener – although the process might be more entertaining, since you wouldn’t be looking at a blank page each time you need to write.
But to improve upon your writing, you need to write without thinking about errors or research or pictures of your characters. If you cannot remember what Bob looked like, maybe you need to work on the character – when you make him more memorable for you, he will also become more memorable for your readers, and in the end, that’s a much greater benefit than saving time on the editing process.