Sep 18, 2013

Not an Editing Tip: Two Free Programs to Speed Things Up!

Let me make a quick note that this is not an editing tip. I'm not an editor, and Lord knows I don't specifically enjoy the editing process. But I'm not going to write a first draft and immediately throw it out to the wolves before editing the damn thing. So I was looking for ways to speed up that daunting task, and I found some free programs that can do that!

The task of taking out crutch and empty words can seem like a long journey, when all you want to do is send the story off. MS word (and other programs) find/replace is a handy feature, but can take forever when your ms is long.

Before I continue, this process does not replace good ole' human eyes. Grab yourself a beta reader first, and make sure you read your story too.

SmartEdit Lite by Bad Wolf Software:

The first program is quite possibly the most comprehensive. SmartEdit provides both a Paid-for version and a Lite version. Go ahead, try out the 10-day trial. But for this post, I'm going to focus on the Lite version. I am a poor gal after all. SmartEdit is currently in version 3.101, but I use an older version which does NOT offer anything different to the new version! It's all the same, except for the tiny ad.

If you're like me, you'd rather not copy/pasta pieces of your story into a web browser, this program is for you. It's a complete install, no copy/paste needed.

And it's thorough. Have a list of "no-no" words you need to search for? No problem. Add each word into the Monitored Words list, and you're ready to go. For instance: one of my crutch words is "wanton". I've added it to my list here, including some other empty verbs and unnecessary words:

Hit scan. It might take awhile. For this process, I like to separate my chapters into different documents, such as "chapter 1" "chapter 2", etc, and run them one at a time. It can still be a daunting process to scan/fix the entire thing in one go.

Here, you can see I found the word "wanton". It also appears two more times within my story. In the document viewer, I can fix it by either rewriting the sentence, or whatever. Then, I can press Save, and it'll keep my changes.

As you can see, SmartEdit Lite also features a cliche checker, a dialog tag list, an adverbs list, and repeated words and repeated phrases lists that also make the editing process much faster. The paid-for version offers tons more goodies to help.

Maybe some time I'll make a comprehensive post on how to use SmartEdit, some tips and tricks, but I'll continue on to the next program in this list.

EditMinion by the makers of Write or Die:

EditMinion is currently in Beta stage, but this doesn't stop the web program from being totally awesome. This is a copy/paste thingie, though, so if you're comfortable with that, definitely give this one a try.

So, what you should do here is break up your story into parts. As you can see when you go to the page, the script cannot handle too much text. If your chapters are smaller - around 2 or 3k - then the script is okay. Any more than that, and you should cut your chapters in half. I suggest doing this within your word program and saving them as separate files just in case.

Copy/paste your part into the empty space, and click "Edit". When the script is done, it will generate a report that will appear underneath.

The program marks: Adverb use, weak words, passive voice, dialog tags, homonym's, and sentences ending in propositions. Even though you cannot correct your mistakes inside the window, you can use this report to correct mistakes in your file.

I think my passage is fairly clean. :) ... Yeah this is just for demonstration.

So do you have any programs that you use to help the editing process? I'd like to hear about them!