Even the best writers can use some help sometimes. Whether it’s for editing or focusing on the subject at hand, there is a tool for that. And most of them are free!
I will recommend Ginger again and again. When I started working at HiP, my editor/supervisor showed me Ginger. While Ginger touts itself as the all-encompassing editor, in reality, it does only a little better than most word processing apps. But it catches some subtle things that human editors might accidently gloss over.
But Ginger is no substitute for a human editor, as I talk about in this piece. I actually bring up both this tool and the following tool in that post, along with some strategies I use to edit better than these apps will.
The best thing is, Ginger has a very effective free version. It doesn’t even feel as if it is a free version except for the occasional advertisements to buy the full version. Even these aren’t that intrusive and adds to my satisfaction with the service.
2. Hemmingway Editor
I have a folder called, “Writing as a Science” and this particular app falls into that category. It analyzes your writing for a number of factors, which are supposedly based off the writing style of Earnest Hemmingway. Accuracy aside, the tool analyzes your work for the following characteristics
- Sentences that are hard to read
- Sentences that are very hard to read
- Complicated phrasing and suggestions to make it simpler
- Adverbs- this editor wants you to get rid of all of them
- Passive voice- this editor believes it’s okay sometimes but suggests you limit it
- Grade level- tells you the reading level of your work. Keep in mind it is suggested that content and copy be below a ninth grade level
This is a useful tool that eventually trains you into needing it less. Since I started using the Hemmingway editor I use less adverbs in general because I’m conscious of using them while I write now.
This service is cool. Really cool. My officemate showed it to me a few days ago and I just recently started the free trial (14 days). While I haven’t yet used it for its practical applications, I can see myself doing so in the future. This app analyzes your work for words that convey tone, then tells you whether or not the general tone of your piece is positive or negative and what emotions it evokes exactly. It even tells you if the emotions you are evoking are strong or weak. Super cool.
There’s also an optimization tool, which shows you how to change your copy to reflect the tone you desire. Some of it is a little off but it’s at least a good tool to reference when you want an idea of how you copy or content is coming across.
Toneapi is not free but the trial gives you a good idea what you’re getting. Unfortunately, it’s pricey at $149 a month for the full version. I’m not sure that I would pay that but I do really love the program. I guess it depends on how much you value your tone being evaluated.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but this is a simple little tool does a bunch of really neat things. I don’t need it for its word counting merits but it has a really neat benefits of giving you a keyword density, which could be useful for SEO. That’s the main value of this app for me, but it also assesses readability and reading time, along with word, sentence and paragraphs counts.
5. Pomodoro 8
This is a very simple tool for Windows that can be downloaded from the app store. Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique? I’ve been using it off and on for years without knowing it was something well-established. It is essentially interval training for work. You set a timer for a set amount, usually between 20 and 30 minutes and work without distraction for the entirety of that time. Then you set another timer, usually for about five minutes, which represents your break time. And repeat.
This is very good for getting things done because it allows you a measurable amount of time to focus and not focus. I use Pomodoro 8, which defaults to 20-minute work periods and five minute breaks. It’s hard to adjust these as there is a bug in the settings, but it suits my purposes for now. A quick Google search will reveal a multitude of additional option for any OS, be it mobile or on a computer.
6. Unsuck It
I really love this web app and it’s because I really hate jargon. If you’re feeling a little too serious about your B2B writing or honestly, any business-oriented job, give Unsuck It a try. It’s guaranteed to make you laugh or feel like a douche (we tested it in our office). At any rate it’s good to take yourself a little less seriously and can actually explain a word to you if you need it. It will just be delivered in a hilarious manner.
7. Cliché Finder
This simple tool does exactly one thing. It finds clichés and highlights them. It’s pretty useful if you are prone to cliché-laden writing.
These tools are pretty awesome because while you may not use them all the time, they start making you think about how you write while you write. That way, when you revisit these tools, you need them less and less because in that time you have become a better writer.
What do you think? Do you use any of these tools? Did we miss one that you love? Let us know in the comments section!