Take it with a block of salt

I was extremely fortunate to receive a 1-year premium subscription to ProWritingAid from a friend. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s an editing app that can show you if you overuse words, or use too much passive voice, etc. I tend to turn my nose at most editing software and websites (someday I may give you my feelings on Grammarly), but since this is free, there is no reason not to try it out.

I plunked in what I consider to be the tightest chapter of my sequel to The Hole in the World, just for kicks, to see what kind of reports it would generate. I’d never heard the term “sticky sentence” before, but the generated suggestion amused me:

That… does not leave me very much to work with.

Now, I’m not giving up on it. The friend who gifted it to me warned me to take suggestions with “a block of salt”, which honestly is advice with any app like this (especially Grammarly). I still think there’s a lot to gain from something like this. But, if I followed every suggestion it gave me, my writer’s voice would be lost quickly. It does force me to at least think about the word choices in these areas, and I’m not too proud to admit that sometimes I could pick a tighter verb over the use of an adverb. Sometimes, though, that adverb is necessary for the character voice, whether in dialog or point of view.

I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth (another thing PWA tells me I do too often–cliches), because I can see the benefits. I don’t know if it’s confidence or arrogance, but I’m not going to let it dictate my voice.

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