As a writer.
That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.
Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?
Ack! Argh! Hands in face.
Many writers embark on this gargantuan task without help, and they are to be praised for their fortitude. Some also don’t see the value of an online editing program. Me? I’m on so many deadlines, I need every bit of help I can get. And for that I use Pro-Writing Aid, an online program you can use to help you beat the plowshare of your words into a sharp sword wrought of wordsmithery. Every writer has different goals in editing depending on their strengths and weaknesses. I edit toward polishing words and correcting grammar. I can pare my vague and filler words, and smooth my sentences. To do this I use the following reports, though other writers may use different ones.
Here is an example:
A hylec away from Windshadow, the gravel of the Northern Gate Road gave way to a narrow dirt path that barely took a two-wheeled cart let alone riders side by side. They were forced to ride single file on the rutted path that angled steeply into the valley. Irlu took the lead position, with Arekan, then Santir behind him, followed by the other two officers Ranju and Gemlin. The infantry followed behind. Despite the rough road, the day was sunny and the cool air crisp. Santir thought there’d it would be a chill tonight because of the coolness of the air. That was only natural. The season was heading into the last days of autumn.
What did Pro-Writing Aid show me?
Since this is a fantasy piece personal and place names don’t make it through the analysis unscathed. But there is one passive verb to reword and some prepositions to pare.
Next in the Sentence report, there is oh, oh, one long sentence. Bad, bad author.
Next I look at overused words. Pro-Writing Aid says:
“This feature of the program compares the frequency of commonly overused words in your text to published writing to give you an indication of where you may be over-using words.”
It also tells you have many overused words you need to obliterate.
And then if you really want to depress yourself, (I know I always do) go ahead and run the repeat word report called Echoes. If you haven’t done so already, this is the point that makes you want to pull the whiskey from the shelf.
After hammering away at the words, and figuratively hitting my thumb with said instrument I wrangled my second draft:
A hylec from Windshadow, the gravel of the Northern Gate Road gave way to a narrow dirt path. It was barely wide enough to take a two-wheeled cart let alone riders side-by-side. This forced the Mor’a’stani officers to ride single file on the rutted track that angled steeply toward the valley. Irlu took the lead position, with Arekan following, then Santir. Ranju and Gemlin came after while the infantry marched behind them. Despite the rough travel, the day was pleasantly sunny though a crisp breeze cut through Santir’s jacket. He thought the brisk air presaged a chilly night. The season was heading into the last days of autumn.
And all this editing resulted in Pro-Writing Aids summary assessment:
“Your vocabulary was more dynamic (unique words/total) than 82% of ProWritingAid users.” Yeah! And pass the whiskey. I have the the rest of the book to edit.
[Note: no bottles of whiskey were harmed during the writing of his post.]
Photograph published under a Creative Commons License issued by Flickr user stanjourdan