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Editing, it's such sorrow

I love to write my stories. The building of the characters, the storyline, the dialogue, and bringing it all together. To write in a way that makes the reader not want to put that book or e-reader down. To carry a story forward when writing in a series. To, hopefully, not sound repetitive by rehashing the same old theme with a different angle to it in the hope it will work out.

I also get much of my inspiration while within my writing mind. I'll be heading down a storyline path when another idea will hit me. I note it, shelve it, and let it stew while I move on with what I am writing.

I get that story written, I read through to add more character and plot build, and just when I am done, reality sets it--the editing part. Oh, the humanity of it all. I used to use a product called Whitesmoke to help me. I had a love-hate relationship with it. It helped find the errors, but it has some nasty gotchas that I finally got fed up with. Whitesmoke brings each paragraph into a window over your document, in my case MS Word, and points out any errors, grammar change recommendations and so on. However, make too many changes within that window, or cause whatever pointers it uses to get misaligned, and that paragraph will either simply disappear with the document, or be replaced by a string of letters that make no sense and minus any spacing. I learned to save constantly prior to hitting that F2 key that brings the paragraph up for edit. If I used the replace and edit next paragraph option, my document would not move forward behind the window. This prevented me from being able to see how the paragraph is put back into my document. Since you can't trust it will be correct, you can't use that option without playing Russian roulette with each paragraph. So, you have to make the change, save it, click no on replace and move forward, save the document, and then hit F2 after placing the cursor on the next paragraph. Slow and frustrating to say the least. I finally decided I wasn't getting what I was paying for after upgraded version never fixed that problem.

This led me to Grammarly. I downloaded the free version and gave it a try. When it fired off, it gave me an error count on the story I had just finished at +999. Intimidating to say the least. However, much of what was flagged was to change sentence structures, so it flowed better, and you know what, it does. I would say I accepted about 70% of the recommended changes while ignoring the rest because I wanted the wording just as it was. This was mostly due to being in dialogue. Impressed, I upgraded to the premium version which adds more features that I can use, and I have just finished my first document while using it. It will be my tool of choice going forward.

Here are my likes and dislikes with Grammarly:

Likes: It flows throughout the document where I can make my own changes, accept Grammarly's recommendation, or dismiss it so it ignores it. It has a strong rewording and rephrasing component. It catches the spelling and word usage errors that slip right past MS Words' editor. You can also tell Grammarly to start over, so it resets all its findings. It highlights the error or recommend changes within the document, but also brings it up in a full sentence on the right so you can see what it would look like it you accept the change. The error count goes up and down as you flow through the document so you can see how you are doing

Dislikes: It can be slow to adjust when you accept a change, and it you jump the gun, it will not put the change into place correctly. It's easy to spot when it isn't ready because the red or green line, depending on what it is highlighting, will not position correctly under the word or words within the sentence. You just have to wait until it aligns correctly and then you can move on. It doesn't remember the ignores when you close and reopen your document, but you can continue on from where you left off. How it jumps forward can be annoying. If you accept a change, it will automatically take you to the next one. However, if I am reading and editing at the same time, I don't want it to move forward, so I have to backtrack to where I was to keep reading. If you dismiss a recommended change, it does not move forward. I would like to be able to turn on and off the move forward part. Lastly, and quite nasty, is that Grammarly crashes at times and leaves a huge black rectangle on my monitor that cannot be cleared without rebooting. It doesn't happen often, but still a pain when it does. However, it does not impact my document as I can still save and close it without issue. At times, I will close and reopen my document when Grammarly seems overly slow, and this helps speed it back up. It think this may be related to how many times I ignore a change, and it has to remember them while the document is open.

Overall, Grammarly is light-years ahead of Whitesmoke. I don't have to fear I may be missing an entire paragraph. Grammarly follows right along within the document so you can see what is being changed. I would say the Grammarly is 100% accurate as long as you don't jump the gun and try to accept the next change without making sure it is ready.

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