edit your novel

ProWritingAid is an essential part of a writer's toolbox.

ProWritingAid is an essential editing tool

ProWritingAid is an essential part of a writer's toolbox.After a month (or two, or three) of writing non-fiction, I’m back at work writing fiction. One of the essential tools I use is ProWriting Aid. I touched on its features briefly in my “R” is for Revising Your Rough Draft blog. I’d like to explain more of why I find it invaluable.

ProWritingAid is more than spelling and  grammar.

Let’s examine its features:

  • Writing style checks.
    • Highlights areas where your writing style might be improved, such as use of passive and hidden verbs.
    • Passive verbs:been taught, been raised, was killed. These can change to a more active verb: taught, raised, killed.
    • Hidden verbs:a meeting with can change to meet with; the disappearance of can change to dissapear.
    • Adverb usage inside and outside of dialogue. I tend to keep adverbs inside dialogue as that’s how people talk.
    • Using the same word to start three or more sentences.
  • Grammar check. Checks text for grammar errors and potential word misuse.
  • Overused word check. Compares the frequency of commonly overused words in text to published writing to give you an indication of where you may be over-using words.
    • ProWritingAid, for example, will suggest you remove 13 of the 33 instances you used “had”.
  • Readability.
    • Approximate reading time
    • Points out difficult to read paragraphs.
    • Cliches and Redundancies
  • Sticky sentences.
    • Sticky sentences contain a greater-than-normal amount of small articles and words such as”a, head, out, of, the, way” which slows reading.
  • Diction, Vague, and Abstract words report
        • Diction—ending sentences with a preposition; simplifying words (using “want” instead of “desire”)
        • Vague and Abstract words—it mostly objects to “would, could, some,” but also takes exception to perfectly good words. I mostly ignore this section.

      Other ProWritingAid reports:

    ProWritingaid helps eliminate errors in your writing

  • Repeats check.
    • Points out when you’ve used a word or phrase more than once.
  • Close repeats.
    • Highlights any words or phrases you’ve used more than once in a short space of writing.
  • Sentence length check
    • You might want to break up that 43 word sentence.
  • Thesaurus
    • By hovering over a word, proWritungAid suggests alternatives
  • Dialogue tags check
    • Highlights all dialogue, gives a percentage of dialogue used, and counts how many and of which type of tags.
  • Consistency
    • Spelling consistency
    • Hyphenation consistency
    • Straight quotes vs. curly quotes
    • Capitalization consistency (Commander vs commander)
    • Em and en dash use
  • Pacing check
    • Identifies slow paragraphs, such as backstory and introspection, so you can spread them out.
  • Pronoun use
    • ProWritingAid suggest 4-15% of pronoun usage and <30% of initial pronoun usage (beginning a sentence with a pronoun)
  • Alliteration (spaceship in sub-space)
  • Homonym
  • Transitions. Transitions make it easier for your reader. I fail woefully at transitions.
  • House styles. You can set up your own style sheet.
  • Plagiarism. This is a paid report.

ProWritingAid is a paid platform at $40 per year. There is a limited FREE version for a 14 day period. I suggest trying the free version first to determine if the software is compatible to you.

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Zeroable words are able to be omitted from a sentence without any loss of meaning. They are sometimes called filler or slacker words and phrases.

Zeroable, The “Z” in the AtoZChallenge

Zeroable words are able to be omitted from a sentence without any loss of meaning. They are sometimes called filler or slacker words and phrases.Ta da! Here we are, 30 days and 26 posts into the AtoZChallenge, and boy, are my arms tired. Or my fingers. Maybe my brain. I’ve never written so many blogs in a row, but the effort was worth it! I’ve read so many blogs from a wide variety of people, not one of them zeroable.

What’s zeroable? According to phrontistery.info, zeroable is:

  • Able to be omitted from a sentence without any loss of meaning.

From a writer/editor point of view, I’ve known these as filler words, or slacker words. I have an enormous list of filler words I pull out when I’m in the editing/proofreading stage of my writing. Here are a few:

  • Very, really, quite, rather.  Is she very quiet? Or is she silent?
  • Up, down. As in sit down, sit up, stand up. Use sit and stand. Your reader knows the direction.
  • That. My favorite zeroable. If you can read the sentence without the “That”, and it makes sense, delete it. I have a friend in Hawaii who is a great friend of the word “that”, and I run through her manuscripts with a big, red pen, crossing them out.
  • As yet. We don’t know (as yet) if we’ll fly to Maui.
  • Totally, completely, literally. Eliminate these adverbs, and your content will (totally) read clean.
  • Each and every. I proofread my copy (Each and every) daily.
  • Pretty, just. You (just) need to eliminate these words. Your copy should read (pretty) clear.

Your content should be clear, concise, and uncluttered. Use the sentence without the filler word. If it makes sense, delete it.

Emotional zeroable words.

I’ve read a lot of emotional filler words during the AtoZChallenge. It’s okay, we all started writing bad prose at the beginning of our writing path. My first novel was full of passive voice and gerund phrases. “Julia was walking toward the front door.” Instead of “Julia walked toward the front door.” An entire book full.

In the last month, I’ve read a lot of “feeling” filter words such as:

  • To think. John thought about his problems with his mother. No. John experienced problems with his mother.
  • To wonder. John wondered about what lay on the other side of the basement door. No. John dreaded opening the basement door. Hundreds of horror movies shouted at him to not open it.
  • To watch. Jane watched as the minute hand of the clock inched toward twelve. Why not use—”The minute hand of the clock inched toward twelve. The hour of reckoning neared.”
  • To decide. Jane decided to run for her life. Instead say, Jane ran for her life.

Your characters do not need to see, think, decide, wonder, look, think, realize see, hear, or touch anything. They need to move, they need action. Don’t create a barrier between your characters and the reader. Don’t have Bill look tired and old. Talk about the wrinkles around his eyes, and how his hand shakes as he adjusts his hearing aid.

Filler words tell me about what’s taking place. The old adage, “Show, don’t tell” is never more important than in writing. Don’t tell me that your characters hear the shrieks of the living dead. Show me how they shuffle up the driveway, their tattered shoes scraping on the concrete.

Check your blog, your manuscript, your posts and tweets for any zeroable words and use your delete key.

After AtoZ

Today is my last AtoZChallenge blog. I’ve enjoyed writing 26 blogs in a row (okay, I cheated and banked a few, but only because I knew I faced a four-day babysitting gig last week). I’ve learned so much, met a ton of new people, and signed up for newsletters and blog updates. If you’ve visited my blog, thank you. If you’ve left a comment, double thank you. I hope to continue blogging more often than I did before AtoZ and bring quality content to my readers.

Next week, I’ll compile my AtoZ posts into an ebook and publish it on multiple formats. Then, it’s back to editing. My second book in my Enchanted series is complete but needs heavy editing. To be sure, I’ll be using my list to look for zeroable words.

Thanks to all who accompanied me on my AtoZ journey, and thanks to those who allowed me into their lives.

Blessings to you,



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Give your characters an overarching emotion

If editing is your least favorite part of writing, this post is for you!


I will show you 7+ tips for editing and proofreading your rough draft and take your book to the next level.

I’ve just finished the final, final, final edits for Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. Proofreading it was a long, laborious process, as I wrote 56K of the story last July in a rough NaNo like session. The first draft was not pretty.

Let’s face the ugly truth. You’ve spent months, maybe years, writing a book and you have a big, sloppy mess of a first draft. How do you clean it, revise it, and make it look good?

Look for inconsistencies.

Did your main character change names, eye color, or gender? Did you mention magic in the first chapter, but no one casts any spells? Does your forest setting change to a desert for no reason? Check your timeline to verify your protag and antag are on the same day. Because of the time involved in writing a book, many details can get lost. Look for inconsistencies and fix them.

Fill in the holes.

When proofreading, fill in the holes of your story. My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

I write very fast because I don’t want the bright, shiny light of inspiration to dim. Get the words down, get them down fast is my motto. Fill in the holes later. My first draft is full of XXX’s, my all-purpose placeholder for research I need to do, nameless characters (example from my current WIP: “Name1, Name2, Name3, Name4 and Name5, thank you for coming here today.”), or descriptions that need filling in (example: more here of her physical trauma xxxx.) My first draft is a tic-tac-toe game. Revising is the time to do the research, decide on the names, and fill in the holes. Continue reading 7+ Tips for editing and proofreading your rough draft

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