Using Grammar software

Shamrock

Well-known member
May 28, 2019
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I am starting to go through my WIP MS with a grammar checker. My usual checks are:

SPG
Stick sentences
Overused words
Repeated words
Clichés & Redundancies
Adverbs/Adjectives
Dialogue tags

Not surprisingly it taking forever. But here is my question - how slavishly do you stick to removing/replacing things like adverbs and adjectives or repeated words/phrases?

I can't help feel that if you were to do everything the writing would end up being bland.

I tend to take more notice of SPG, Sticky sentences and overused words and C&R then the rest - although I have managed to reduce most of the adverbs.
 

Johne

Senior Member
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Sep 27, 2005
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lynnmosher

Moderator
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Feb 21, 2007
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Thanks, Johne. I didn't remember hearing of sticky sentences before. I knew about cliches and redundancies but I guess I hadn't paid much attention to its abbreviation. Thanks so much! ::D
 

carolinamtne

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2013
8,195
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The thing about adverbs is that they want you to use stronger verbs. So if you can replace "said loudly" with "shouted," that makes sense. But that doesn't always work, so go with, as Johne suggested, what sounds best to you.
 

Johne

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Sep 27, 2005
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What are you taking advice from a software program for? You know what sounds good, right?
Because a grammar checking program can help you see things you might have missed. The trick is to look at its suggestions and then make a quick thumbs-up or thumbs-down from there. It's a way of finding things before your readers do. ;)
 

M. D. Boncher

Active member
Dec 9, 2021
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Because a grammar checking program can help you see things you might have missed. The trick is to look at its suggestions and then make a quick thumbs-up or thumbs-down from there. It's a way of finding things before your readers do. ;)
It's why I like listening to my manuscript with Windows text to voice. I did that with Huckleberry Finn and a few others of classic literature. I figure if I can make my own words sound as good as that was being read by a crappy program, as well as hearing myself read it out loud sound good, it's probably sounding right. The biggest difference between the two approaches, (you reading vs a dumb app) is that you always make it sound better because of inflections and intent.
It's not perfect, but, it has been a great check on my sentence structure and the way it sounds in my ear, not just how it looks to my eyes. I seem to see things the way I think it is, but when I hear it, I know it's not right. If that made any sense... 🤷
 

Claire Tucker

Copyeditor and Proofreader
Jan 26, 2018
2,501
632
how slavishly do you stick to removing/replacing things like adverbs and adjectives or repeated words/phrases?
I'm answering this from the viewpoint of copyediting.

Repeated words/phrases: depends on how frequently. Same sentence or paragraph? I'll look for a replacement for one of them. If it's spaced through a scene, I might let it slide, depending on what the author was going for, but I'll probably still look for replacements.

Removing adverbs/adjectives: again, it depends. Context is key, as is author and character voice. It would strike me as odd if we're in an assassin's POV and there are a lot of adjectives and adverbs. If we're in a poet's POV or an artist's, then the additional descriptors are probably a part of their voice as a character.

At the end of the day, it's all about context. There are times with my own work where I'll be pretty sticky about getting rid of adverbs etc. for the sake of word count. But when it comes to editing an author's work, my choices are made based on reader experience (if the repeated words or adverbs will jerk them out the story, I recommend deleting) and on author/character voice.
 

FeatherPen

Active member
May 8, 2022
197
183
I go more for readability than I do being a slave to grammar programs. It is a starting point granted, and helps, but to me; it mostly is about the story itself, and how well it reads.

I edit on the computer, then print out my book, and read through it and highlight mistakes.

I fix those, then re read the book out loud and fix things again. If things are goofy, cliches or gramically wrong: reading it out loud makes it pretty noticeable

Just be wary of; “paralysis by analysis”
 

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
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It's why I like listening to my manuscript with Windows text to voice. I did that with Huckleberry Finn and a few others of classic literature. I figure if I can make my own words sound as good as that was being read by a crappy program, as well as hearing myself read it out loud sound good, it's probably sounding right.
This is a good tip. I listen to my drafts using NaturalReader online. (I gravitate toward the voice for Peter, who speaks with a deep, slightly Scottish brogue.)
 

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