Grammarly Musings

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Spell checker in action

I’ve been editing, tweaking, editing, and tweaking this week; not to mention editing.  Over the years I’ve used a wide variety of tools, such as Scrivener, but have found that, for me, the best combination is MS Word and my brain.

One of the tools I’ve also been using recently is a new one for me:  The Grammarly app in Word.  I’m of a mixed opinion about it.  Do any of you use this app with your manuscript?  If so, what is your experience/impression?

So far, the app is batting less than 1 out of 10; in other words, of 10 “critical errors” that it points out, only 1 of them is legitimate.  I’d say the average is more like 1 out of 15 or 18.  There is also a version of this app, which requires a monthly or yearly subscription, that will expand its range of editing suggestions; but before I go that route I want to know that the app actually works in the free version.  So far, it’s more static than editing aid.

Now to be fair, my manuscript is not the average; it’s got words like en queue (the hairstyle of men in the 18th century), and odd terminology to do with nautical actions or environments.  But some of the errors that it points out, such as those to do with commas, are actually correct (e.g. pointing out the second comma of a parenthetical phrase as out of place).  Most of the time the suggestions that it makes are just downright wrong in the context; it proves that language is a fluid concept, and nearly impossible to intelligently simulate in a computer program.  It also means that we are far better off becoming fluent in grammar rather than relying on ANY program to correct our writing!

Having said that, I still appreciate it because it forces me to think through a decision, whether that be sentence structure, punctuation, or phrasing.  Sometimes it sends me in search of confirmation for a grammatical assumption I’ve made; rarely am I surprised by what I find, but it nevertheless helps to solidify the right way of writing something in my mind.  For the most part, I have the app turned off (a great function – the only reason I still use it!), just running it through sections at a time as my other editing nears an end.

Are there any programs or apps that you use for editing?  If so, what is your experience?  Please share in the comments below!

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6 Comments

Filed under Articles, Musings, Nuts & Bolts

6 responses to “Grammarly Musings

  1. I’ve had a good impression from ProWritingAid, although it’s frightening how much it finds to complain about: overused words, clichés, redundancies, sentence length, repeated phrases, vague words, sticky sentences, use of adverbs, spelling issues, grammar issues, dialect issues, etc. If one takes the time to work through its findings, ignoring some, the book certainly benefits significantly.
    But I still believe (and you’ve heard my opinion) that an unbiased human editor is essential before self-publishing.

    • I agree – unbiased humans are the best for editing. Having said that, I’ve also spent hundreds of pounds on editors, only to have miserable results (as I’ve mentioned before); at the end of the day, the author is the one who understands the context best; if one can find a professional editor who knows their job, all the better.

  2. I don’t use any apps, and have to keep a sharp eye on WordPress’s autocorrect

  3. I trust myself more than any editing suggestions.

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