It’s a self editing day today.

I harboured a desire as a kid to become a journalist and then an editor on a newspaper. The old days of print, that is. An editor seemed to me to be a grand and important person. But I was a kid and everyone seemed important to me back then.

I am largely my own editor. I do edit my books and am in the process of editing Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story right now. I needed to take a breather so I thought you may like to know something about how I edit.

Writing a book is the easy part. With me, once I start then the book flows – within reason. The secret at the early stage of writing is to get it down on paper. The niceties can wait for the later stages.

Editing is a different process. Once you are satisfied with the final draft of your manuscript that is the time to edit. You can opt to find a professional editor. That’s fine if you can afford to do that. The better ones do not come cheap. There are also different levels of editing. I don’t propose to detail them as I don’t use an editor.

No editor, but I do use a professional proofreader. It is easy to miss the little mistakes. The wrong punctuation or a spelling mistake. They can spoil even the best written books.

Writing is one form of communication. The reader should find a book easy to read and it needs to communicate a message clearly.

This is why editing is essential. No matter how good a natural writer you may be, your book still needs editing. The writing, the message, the clarity can always be improved.

My go-to editing tools are Hemingway and Pro Writing Aid.

Hemingway costs $9.99 to use on a PC or Mac. I will briefly take you through what it does and what it looks like.

editor

The above is an excerpt from one chapter of my Undercover book. You will see in the right hand column different color codings. They denote items that the app finds you need to change. The relevant part of the text is highlighted in the same color.

Now you are informed, you can set about making the changes.

hemingway edits 2

The screenshot above shows what happens when the mouse hovers over the word ‘very.’ It tells me to remove it. It’s a word that should not be used by writers. If something is important enough to describe as ‘very’ then use more words. Describe it and let the reader ‘see’ or ‘touch’ or ‘feel’ it. But drop ‘very’!

hemingway edits 3

Above shows two examples of passive voice. I decided to keep these two in. Sometimes passive voice is appropriate. You can also see the scores in the right hand column have improved. There are zeros registered in the first three categories.

I found this interesting piece about passive voice and decided to share it:

The passive voice is a misunderstood entity in the world of writing. It is unfairly judged by many authors. Some writers, without taking the time to get to know this grammatical structure, avoid it at all costs. Others use it ineffectively because they do not understand how it works. How can you get to know this mysterious literary device?

First, let’s start with an explanation of what passive voice is. Passive voice sentences mention the thing or person receiving an action before mentioning the action itself, and may omit the actor altogether. For example, consider this sentence:

The leaves were blown by the wind.

The leaves receive the action of being blown. In the example, the agent is specified with the preposition by. However, the agent could have been left out of the sentence: The leaves were blown.

When is it proper to use passive voice? Consider these instances. Why do you suppose passive voice is appropriate? Check your answers below.

  • My camera was stolen from my locker at school.

  • A candle will be lit at the memorial service for the fallen soldier.

  • Diets are made to be broken.

  • The sodium hydroxide solution was heated to 200 degrees.

I will give you the answers later 🙂

hemingway edits 4

You don’t have to do everything it tells you. I left in this adverb. I like the use of ‘haggardly’ in this context. You are my readers. I hope you like it too. That’s what really counts!
Pro Writing Aid is worthy of a further “tutorial” some time soon.  It does extra things that Hemingway does not. It’s cool for finding sticky sentences and overused words. And, it’s far less expensive than a professional editor!

ProWritingAid

“The premium version cuts my editing time in half.”

Dan Brooks – Premium User

The premium version of ProWritingAid combines our reports with a powerful document editor and add-ins for other word-processors. This allows you to edit immediately as you go through the analysis report, responding to suggested changes and choosing from a list of replacements for errors. Your improved text can then be easily exported or pasted back into your original writing application.

Premium users also have access to:

  • Priority (faster) analysis.
  • Microsoft Word add-in – access the ProWritingAid software directly on your own computer (Windows only).
  • Google Documents add-on – use ProWritingAid software from anywhere using Google Docs.
  • Desktop app – work with Scrivener projects and other file types.
  • Chrome extension – bring the power of ProWritingAid to Gmail and other websites in your browser.
  • WordPress plugin – bring the power of ProWritingAid into the world’s most popular blogging platform.
  • Writemonkey plugin – access the ProWritingAid software within this popular stripped down writing interface.
  • Additional reports: Corporate Wording, Pronouns, and more.
  • Personalize your reports.
  • Create your own rules and/or House Style.

The answers to the questions above:

Answers:

  • Who stole the camera? The agent is unknown. If you do not know who committed an action, it is appropriate to use passive voice.
  • Who do you want to receive the attention? If you prefer the attention to be on the action itself (the candle being lit) and not the person doing the lighting, you may omit the agent.
  • You are expressing a general truth that is applicable to many. Using active voice to express this idea would be awkward: People who make diets make them to be broken.
  • Researchers often use passive voice in scientific reports. It is assumed that the reader knows that the experimenters are performing the actions without stating this fact explicitly. But, according to the University of Toronto, this trend is on the decline. Recent papers tend to contain more examples of active voice.

Those questions and answers were taken from the Grammarly blog. Grammarly Instant Spelling And Grammar Checker is another useful tool I use.


 Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase by clicking on these links then I receive a small commission. It is not added to the checkout price. I only recommend products or services that I use myself or have total belief in them.


Featured Image: Photo Credit Matt Hampel

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