How to Use ProWritingAid
The Writing Style Check is one of the most popular and comprehensive reports that ProWritingAid offers. It highlights several areas of writing that should be revised to improve readability, including passive voice, overuse of adverbs, hidden verbs, overused words, clunky phrasing, repeated sentence starts, and more.Read More »
Imagine a road with no street signs. How would you follow the right route if you didn’t have a sign showing you which way to go?
Transition words are the road signs in writing. And great transitions help your reader follow your train of thought without becoming bogged down trying to discern your meaning. Words and phrases like “similarly”, “nevertheless”, “in order to”, “likewise,” or “as a result” show the relationships between your ideas and can help illustrate agreement, contrast or show cause and effect:Read More »
Whenever you use a cliché, you are knowingly writing something unoriginal. Clichés are what you write when you don’t have the energy or inspiration to think of something new to say.
Writers often use clichés when they are working on their ﬁrst draft because thinking up original wording takes time and can interrupt creative ﬂow. That’s ﬁne. But, when you go back to edit, be creative and brainstorm for fresh ideas. A new analogy or metaphor will make much more of an impression on your readers than a dusty old cliché. A good writer may create and reject over a dozen images before ﬁnding the right one, so don’t worry if it takes you a while.Read More »
Dialogue tags are the words that refer dialogue to a speciﬁc character. The two most common examples are “said” and “asked”.
- “I’m not going!” said Charlie.
They are essential in writing, particularly in scenes that include several characters, because they help the reader follow the conversation. Novice writers, however, have an annoying tendency to use more ﬂowery dialogue tags and pepper them with adverbs.
- “I’m not going!” said Charlie angrily.
- “I’m not going!” shouted Charlie.
- “I’m not going!” roared Charlie furiously.
There are some words and sentence constructions that are fine to use occasionally, but become problematic when they are overused. They fall into five main categories:
1) Too Wishy-Washy
Words like “could”, “might” and “maybe” are indefinite in their meaning. “I could bring a salad to dinner” feels hesitant and unsure, whereas “I will bring a salad to dinner” feels resolute. If your writing is peppered with these non-specific words, it will feel unconvincing. Try to limit your use of these undefined words to times when they are really necessary and replace them with definite words when you are able.Read More »
Pacing refers to the speed at which a story is told and how quickly the reader is moved through events. Good writing contains faster-paced sections, such as dialogue and character action, as well as slower-paced sections, such as introspection and backstory.
A book that is entirely composed of car chases without taking the time to make you care about the character being chased just won’t be effective at bringing readers into the story. Likewise, a story that has four chapters in a row dedicated to your main character’s Zen contemplation may need a bit of action to keep readers interested. Differently paced sections should complement each other, allowing the reader to move with you through the narrative.Read More »
Repeating a word or phrase happens to the best of us, especially if you’re writing an article and using a specific vocabulary for your topic. You won’t even notice you’ve used the same word several times in the span of one paragraph because it’s foremost in your mind. But those repeats can set off an echo in the reader’s mind – that subconscious feeling of “Didn’t he just say that?” It can be irritating to read and, worse, it can detract from what you are trying to say. The more uncommon a word or phrase, the more likely it is to echo, even pages apart.Read More »
Varied sentence length is an important feature of good writing. To maintain your readers’ interest, use a variety of sentence lengths: some short and punchy, others long and ﬂowing.
The late Gary Provost illustrated it best. Click through to see how.Read More »
A sticky sentence is one that is full of glue words.
Glue words are the empty space that readers need to get through before they can get to your ideas. Generally, your sentences should contain less than 45% glue words. If they contain more, they should probably be re-written to increase clarity.Read More »
We know that many of you, like us, need a fast-approaching deadline in order to really get down to the business of writing. The problem with doing it all at the last minute means that your editing time is short and needs to be efficient and effective. These three reports will help you do swift and snappy edit when you are down to the wire:Read More »
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