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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? What editing software is the most helpful? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
What editing software is the most helpful? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
I have a question from Zafarul Azam, a writer based in Rockford, Illinois. Here’s what he’s asked by email…
“I’m an aspiring writer who went to college in the U.S. and have lived and worked here for more than 30 years. My mother tongue is Urdu and I still find myself sometimes thinking in that language. I’m an engineer by training but I’ve recently started a book of historical fiction. I’ve written about 30,000 words and, recently, I ran the document through the trial versions of ProWritingAid and Grammarly. Among other things, the software told me that my narrative is understandable for 7th graders and above.
I have two questions: First, does the 7th grade level mean that my work is too simple? Second, which of these pieces of software is more effective for editing — Grammarly or ProWritingAid — and does one work better for certain genres? ”
Thanks for your questions Zafarul. Congratulations on writing 30,000 words! That’s a terrific achievement. Let me tackle your questions one at a time.
The issue of grade level is very confusing for many writers. Naturally, we are inclined to see a higher level as better but, in fact, when it comes to readability statistics, lower is better. For my own writing, I always aim to stay between a grade 7 and a grade 9 level.
Even for academic writers working on their PhDs, I suggest sticking to no higher than grade 10 level, because of the way in which these statistics are calculated.
They are based entirely on word length, sentence length, paragraph length and amount of passive. In other words, these statistics don’t evaluate the quality of your ideas or reasoning.
In the show notes, I’ve put a link to a video I did previously on readability statistics. I urge you to check it out. Hitting a grade 7 level simply means that your work is relatively easy to read. It does NOT mean that it’s too simple.
Your second question, relating to ProWritingAid vs Grammarly is even easier for me to answer. Go for ProWritingAid, no doubt. It’s a much richer piece of software and it will help you improve your writing in far more sophisticated ways. As well, it’s less expensive than Grammarly. I use ProWritingAid myself and find it’s helped me improve my writing immeasurably. There is no difference between these two softwares with respect to genre. See the show-notes for a link to a blog post I’ve written on the topic. This post goes into details on the costs.
Finally, let me wrap up with the words of Taiwanese engineer and businessman Jen-Hsun “Jensen” Huang: “Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software.”
As an engineer, Zafarul, you’re undoubtedly already aware of the difference between software and artificial intelligence. Software like ProWritingAid and Grammarly is not as sophisticated as artificial intelligence, although I understand that AI-based editing tools are being developed even as I speak. They’re just not available to general consumers yet.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.
How to understand readability stats
Is it worth paying for ProWritingAid? (and is it better than Grammarly?)