Are You Only as Good as Your Writing Tools? Or Are You Better?
I write in Microsoft Word a lot, as well as on Facebook and in emails. Microsoft OneNote was where I compiled this current manuscript. All of those programs include spell- and grammar checking, but the website where I am editing the manuscript now does not have those helpers.
As I’ve mentioned before, the book I’m working on has morphed beyond an ebook or a paperback and is going to also be an online glossary. All my research and notes have been transferred to the website platform that will host the glossary as it made more sense to work with the tools there rather than trying to cut and paste and link everything separately later.
Even though I’m nearing the end of the first editing pass, it only just occurred to me that I don’t have any kind of spellcheck tool in this program. To be sure, I did have spellcheck while I was originally writing, but some of the edits involved heavy rewrites.
I asked if there was a spellchecking plugin or some such that could be uploaded to the platform and it was suggested that, instead, I add Grammarly to my browser which would then work on my website writing. So I did, and it’s been interesting.
The weirdest thing is the “Tone Detector” where Grammarly theorizes what readers might feel about what you have written. My writing mainly register as “Neutral,” which looks an awful lot like the “Meh” emoji and is making me self-conscious. Now I’m wondering how exactly someone should feel when reading a definition.
Some definitions are considered “Accurate,” which is encouraging, while others are labeled “Formal,” which is a little off-putting. (And no doubt “off-putting” would also be considered “Formal.”) A couple of entries were called “Forceful!” How exciting is that?
The spellchecking part of the tool is very useful as I frequently swap “-ent” and “ant” in words without realizing it. I’m less impressed by the grammar checker. After more than a half-century of writing, I bowed to the superiority of the Oxford comma, but it’s definitely not second nature yet. Grammarly does remind me when I forget, which I appreciate, but it also occasionally flags a sentence structure that looks perfectly good to me without any clear suggestion on how to improve it.
I suspect opening an account in addition to just using the browser extension might offer more help – and I may do that – but for now, I’m just reviewing Grammarly’s objections and rewriting when I think the sentence could be improved. And most often, of course they could be. Too many times, I think it could be even better than the last rewrite. And so I keep rewriting, ad infinitum!
Earlier today, I saw an article on defining “done” in reference to one’s work. Since this is the first edit, I don’t have to define “done” yet, but that day is coming. For many writers, getting our sticky fingers off the manuscript so it can be published is a struggle. Fortunately, one of the advantages of using a website as a writing tool is that you can always update your work!