Having worked as a ghostwriter for eight years, writing nearly every day while working quickly and efficiently sparked my need 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 them 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 an 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 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, the heavens 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 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?