Wordsmithery: ignite your #writing with best-selling-author metrics

Having worked as a ghostwriter for eight years, writing nearly every day, while working quickly, and efficiently, sparked the need for me to develop ninja wordsmithing skills. And for this I turned to machine editing tools.

When I first started, I suffered some backlash from my writing friends. The common sentiment was this:

Sorry, I totally disagree with that. To me, the most important thing for a new writer is finding their individual voice, and I’d far rather see them trying ambitious things, failing and learning from it than being convinced they should stick to a few levels up from “see Spot run.”

But I’m not proud. With a clear and honest assessment of my skills, I realized if I wanted to make money at ghostwriting, I needed help. Grammarly was my first dive into machine editing tools, and it helped with my grammar, but not writing style or word grooming. Then I climbed onboard the ProWriting Aid train, and though I have my issue with certain of their metrics, I use it to edit every word I produce. Analyze My Writing was the next go-to I employed in my roster of machine warriors. Here, I check the Lexical Density of my work and have employed it in line-by-line edits. I flirted with AutoCrit but found at the time the interface too cumbersome to produce work quickly and the app too pricey for my parsimonious heart. It has since improved, but I still don’t want to part with the cash. However, I continue to utilize the free version to scope areas to improve on, then shift back to PWA for the editing. For a while, I used Hemingway, and while it’s useful, I found it gutted too much content to make the writing sparkle. I don’t recommend it for fiction writing, except for the rare passages where readability is too complex for enjoyable reading. And then I stumbled on Expresso App, and the heaven opened, and angels sang. Okay, that’s overstating the case, but Expresso has something I have not discovered in other machine editors, and that’s the weak verb analysis. Go, Express App!

But Beth, you ask, how do you know what marks to hit when you edit?

I studied it in excruciating detail. And these are the writing metrics I test my prose against.

Lexical Density: 49% to 52%, though best-selling authors regularly knock the ball out of the park at 52%.

ProWriting Aid: 100% in grammar, style, and spelling.

Glue Words (PWA): equal to or less than 46%. Here, PWA and I disagree. PWA says less than 40%. Best-selling authors’ glue index can go as high as 49%, though I’m sure with the demands of modern fiction and using machine tools, that percentage will go lower.

Weak Verb Percentage: From Expresso App and my study of best-selling authors: Equal to or less than 40%.

Pronoun Percentage: From PWA: Equal to or less than 15%.

AutoCrit: From their assessment–Around 80.

When I hit those numbers, I’m happy with what I submit to my clients, and they are happy with my writing.

What do you think? Will these metrics help you with your writing?

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