From the blog

How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

by ProWritingAid May 25, 2016

How to Create Fantastic Metaphors

Aristotle said a metaphor was “the act of giving a thing a name that belongs to something else.” It allows you to pack a powerful punch in a few words. Your reader can take their full understanding of one thing, and apply it to another thing. By writing, “my cubicle is a prison,” your reader understands how you feel about your job. With just that one word that they know you feel trapped, unhappy, desolate.

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How to use... The Diction Report

by ProWritingAid May 23, 2016

How to use... The Diction Report

The Diction Report helps you avoid unnecessarily complicated writing by analyzing your word selection and sentence construction.

When it comes to writing, less is more. Make every word count. If it's not essential, cut it. Too often when writers are trying to sound authoritative, they choose the wordy ways of saying something simple. Why write “has the ability to” when you can write “can”? You’re just using more words to say the same thing, which actually makes your writing much less clear.

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How to use... The Vague & Abstract Words Check

by ProWritingAid May 19, 2016

How to use... The Vague & Abstract Words Check

There are two types of words that muddy the waters for clarity and concise writing: vague and abstract words. Replacing them with strong specific words can make a huge difference to your document.

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How to use... The NLP Predicates Report

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The NLP Predicates Report

It’s important to use all five senses in your writing. Every writer has a tendency to favor one or two of their senses over the others, and this affects the way that he or she experiences the world, processes information and makes memories. This means that we tend to describe characters, settings or actions using words related to our own favored senses. Writing that skews too far toward one sense over the others will resonate more with readers who favor the same sense and less so with those who do not.

The term “NLP predicate” refers to those words (primarily verbs, adverbs and adjectives) associated with the specific senses.

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How to use... The Pronoun Check

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The Pronoun Check

When you are writing in creative mode, you often rely on pronouns to keep your narrative moving: “He did this,” “She did that,” “They ran there,” “I found out.” That’s fine. It’s more important to keep your writing momentum up than it is to get every sentence just right.

When you go back and edit, however, you should check your pronoun percentage. Ideally it should fall somewhere between 4% and 15%. Any more than this and your writing can feel dull. This is especially so with initial pronouns – those at the start of the sentence. Your initial pronoun percentage should be under 30%.

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How to use... The Thesaurus Check

by ProWritingAid May 18, 2016

How to use... The Thesaurus Check

Often, changing just one word in a sentence allows a writer to present a more nuanced or specific idea. The contextual thesaurus allows you to explore a wider vocabulary. Unlike most thesaurus suggestions, our report takes into account the context of the word in the sentence and offers replacement words that fit within that context.

The Thesaurus Report helps you expand your vocabulary and enrich your writing.

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How to use... The Consistency Check

by ProWritingAid May 17, 2016

How to use... The Consistency Check

The Consistency Check checks your writing for consistency in four key areas: 1) Spelling, 2) Hyphenation, 3) Capitalisation, and 4) Punctuation.

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How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

by Kathy Edens May 17, 2016

How to Use Subplots to Bring Your Whole Story Together

Just like real life, your characters will have more than one thing demanding their time and attention. Romances, family life, work concerns, health issues, friendships, etc. These additional plot lines are subplots that give your story depth and help keep it moving.

And as with your main plot, all subplots should follow a narrative arc of conflict, crisis, and resolution, usually wrapped up before the main plot’s climax.

Subplots can be what’s happening to secondary characters or an internal conflict your main character is facing in addition to the main conflict of your story. The key to an effective subplot is how you work it into the main plot.

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Writing App Reviews…Ulysses

by Kathy Edens May 17, 2016

Writing App Reviews…Ulysses

We know that ProWritingAid users like a bit of writing technology, so this month we begin a new series that looks at some of the best writing platforms out there. With so many options, and more being developed every day, how do you know which one is right for you.  We sent one of our favourite freelancers, Kathy Edens, out to give them all a test run and report back. 

This month, she looks at Ulysses. Scrivener, ILYS and The Novel Factory will also be reviewed over the next couple months. 

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How to use... Readability Scores

by ProWritingAid May 15, 2016

How to use... Readability Scores

Your ProWritingAid Summary Report will provide you with a variety of readability scores that have been calculated using some of the top tools out there. Each tool calculates their score in a slightly different way but the results should be within the same ballpark.

The Flesch Reading Ease Score is the most well-known readability test out there (even the US military use it to assess the readability of their technical manuals). It calculates the total number of words in each sentence, and then the total number of syllables in each word, and gives you two scores.

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Why We Love the Oxford Comma

by ProWritingAid May 09, 2016

Why We Love the Oxford Comma

What is the Oxford comma? And why is there so much debate around whether it should be used? ProWritingAid advocates a nuanced approach to the Oxford comma depending on the clarity of the sentence.

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How to use... The Grammar Check

by ProWritingAid May 09, 2016

How to use... The Grammar Check

The Grammar Check is similar to the grammar and spelling checkers that you have probably used in within your word processor. It highlights any word that’s not in our dictionary in case it’s misspelled. It also looks at the construction of the sentence to make sure that the structure, punctuation and tense are correct.

But, in addition to these standard grammar checks, our team of copyeditors have been inputting thousands of specific checks that they have come across in their years of editing. Our goal over the next couple of years is to have a simple explanation associated with every grammar issue that the software picks up.

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10 Free Writing Apps and Tools

by Payton Price May 04, 2016

Writing isn’t always the easiest thing. Thankfully, there are all types of apps out there to help you stay organized and focused. Whether you are writing for a living or just making a grocery list, these apps will help you complete your project with ease.

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How to use... The Writing Style Check

by ProWritingAid May 03, 2016

How to use... The Writing Style Check

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.

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The Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)

by Katja L Kaine Apr 26, 2016

The Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)

The way I draft is an extension of the way I approach novel planning as a whole - which is to start with a simple concept and then add more and more detail until I have a fairly comprehensive outline.

With drafting that means starting with a rough outline and slowly fleshing it out and adding detail, tweaking and weaving until it is finished, polished prose. I try to approach each draft with different priorities in mind so I can focus on tackling particular elements of story-telling at each stage while setting aside other aspects for later so I don’t get bogged down trying to do too much at once.

In this article, I give details about the objective I assign to each draft, how I prepare for that draft (i.e. what I do in advance) and then the technique I use when actually writing it. I’ve also added a very rough guide to projected timescales and a bullet point summary of each stage.

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Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

by Kathy Edens Apr 26, 2016

Map Out Your Character’s Transformation Using the 9 Enneagram “Levels of Development”

The Enneagram details 9 internal levels of developmentwhere your main character can find him or herself at any point in time. A person’s personality isn’t static, meaning that it fluctuates depending on whether they are under duress or some good fortune happens. Each of these 9 levels of development represents a major paradigm shift in awareness, meaning your main character changes—for better or worse.

Have a look at the different levels and see if you can place your main character(s) at the beginning of your story and where you want them to be at the end.

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4 Plot Pitfalls You Need to Avoid

by Kathy Edens Apr 26, 2016

4 Plot Pitfalls You Need to Avoid

We’re going to spend a little bit of time on plot this month—talking about what NOT to do.

Sometimes it’s hard to see plot problems while you’re writing and you don’t notice them until the end. This will send some writers into a downward spiral of negative self-talk. Others will white-knuckle their way through half-hearted revisions.

Here are a few common plot pitfalls and what you can do to rectify them.

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How to use... The Transition Report

by ProWritingAid Apr 25, 2016

How to use... The Transition Report

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:

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How to use... The Clichés and Redundancies Check

by ProWritingAid Apr 25, 2016

How to use... The Clichés and Redundancies Check

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.

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How to use... The Dialogue Tags Check

by ProWritingAid Apr 25, 2016

How to use...  The Dialogue Tags Check

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.

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