While there will invariably be different opinions about whether or not automated writing critiques and tools should be used by writers, there is no question that there is a myriad of them available today, and that they may help improve writing. Most authors are looking for an edge. Whether it’s to improve their writing or to mitigate their errors and mistakes, I believe these tools can certainly help, even though they shouldn’t be used to replace a proper editor, per se. As a wise mentor of mine once said, “you never turn down a resource.”
Below I’ve listed a number of online tools that writers can use to analyze their writing, minimize their mistakes, gain some insight, or to just generally improve their craft. Let me know how you use these tools, or any others that I failed to list, in the comments below.
The first tool of a writer is his or her word processor. A writer wants the power and features of a tool, yet the flexibility and fluidity that the creative mind requires to be productive without being distracted. So, while there are many writing tools out there, not many compare to the depth and breadth of Scrivener.
Scrivener can be a simple word processor. It can also do more advanced things like act as a corkboard with note cards that you can move around for outlining or brainstorming. It can also export your work into most modern-day ebook formats. Many feel Scrivener is the ultimate and most necessary of all writing tools.
Autocrit is an online tool, like many of the others below, that will analyze the writing that you copy / paste into its analysis box, and give you a report about your writing style. It will also give you feedback on the sentence structure, and grammar quality of your work.
This tool is free for limited use, but to get the full benefit (longer word count) they want you to sign up (pay) for a premium account.
This Tone Analyzer tool is actually new. It’s the same idea as above, copy / paste your writing into a large text field on their website, and they will spit back a pretty detailed analysis of your writing down to the sentence and world level.
Interestingly enough, this also gives you a view into your writing as a whole (what you copied / pasted) as far as its “tone” goes. So, by virtue of your word choice, what tone, or feeling are you transmitting? This is the first time I’ve seen this element in a writing tool. At the macro level, this could really give you some insight if you’re conveying what you intended for a given portion of your story. You might not want your prose to come off as overly bright and cheery if you’re writing the climax of a horror novel, for example.
Based on principles taught in Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, Editminion allows you to copy / paste your prose into a large text field, but it also afford you more controls than some of the other tools. While the idea is similar, you can toggle off and on various factors to be considered in the analysis. Examples: Adverbs, weak words, passive voice and others.
This tool is free.
The Hemingway App asserts that it can help make your writing bolder and clearer than it may be now. This tool gives you a readability score (grade level), word count, and calls out other notable factors like sentence length, passive phrases and other variables of that sort.
This is a free tool.
This one is a lot like Autocrit. It is also compatible with Microsoft Word, and Google docs, however. It has a limited free option, just like Autocrit, and then offers premium service levels as well.
Writerkata differs from the above tools in that you don’t copy / paste your writing into a window and receive an analysis. It’s more of a free boot camp for writers. It will throw a series of exercises at you for you to complete at your own pace. As you move through the exercises, it will chronicle your progress.
This free tool is just plain fun. You copy / paste some of your writing into the site, and it will tell you who has a similar style to your writing. I got Cory Doctorow. Who did you get?
In his free time Justin loves to read, write, and play games. He enjoys his close friends, and loves to make people laugh. To learn more about Justin, or his work, you can visit him at www.justinswapp.com
Justin is the author of The Magic Shop. He has also been published in several anthologies, including The Crimson Pact (Volumes 1, 2, and 5), The Memory Eater, and Short Sips: Coffee House Flash Fiction Collection 2.