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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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%.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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.Read More »
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 »
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