Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Used Grammarly Because it Makes My Writing Gooder

NOTE: I want to be completely up front about this: Grammarly contacted me and offered me a free month of premium membership to try their service, along with an Amazon voucher if I chose to promote it.

While I hesitate to turn my nose up at free books, I wouldn't be writing this if I hadn't been impressed by the tools offered here. You can be confident I would have been telling you about whether there were freebies in the offing or not. Because I found it very, very insightful...

It's time for me to confess: My grammar sucks. There, I said it. *Slump*

Don't get me wrong, the title of this blog is a joke. but I never studied creative writing after high school. I've forgotten most of what I learned there beyond the basics (nouns, verbs and so forth). Everything I know now is based on my personal study of the craft of fiction. So, my punctuation is... okay (though I'm awfully prone to random commas, and overuse / poor use of elipses).  And I know how to use modifiers (most of the time). But I have a long way to go on general grammar.

I'd always imagined that to learn all those rules and how to apply them was going to require some kind of course, or personal instruction from a professional proof-reader. Instead, I think I'm going to start with

When I entered a blogpost and a chapter of my book into the program for proofing I'll admit to being skeptical. I've found the MS office grammar checkers to be, shall we say, less than satisfactory. But they know the rules, right? So how could any program be much better?

I'll tell you how: when I entered my work, the program produced a document which identified poor grammar and punctuation, typos, misspellings, incorrect word usages, etc, etc, etc. 

That's useful all on it's own. But here's where I personally found the real value of this program: 

I then had the opportunity to either scan the document and check each highlighted issue, or use the summary document to check all instances of similar problems. (I.e. each instance of using the wrong word. Or every time I'd used the wrong punctuation within a sentence - or each time I'd started / ended a sentence with the wrong get the picture). 

Within each and every issue the program highlighted, I could read the actual grammar rule which was being applied, see an example of the rule broken, and the rule applied correctly, along with an explanation of the terms.

In other words, didn't just grammar check, it taught me the rules and how to apply them in later work.

Now, like any computer-driven check, there were times that the software didn't understand what I was doing, so highlighted words for change that didn't need it. But frankly, the occurences were few and far between, especially when compared with the MS Word checker. I checked about 3,500 words in total. In all that, it highlighted 4-5 words incorrectly.

To my mind, that's a small price to pay to have my story proofed and grammar checked, along with personal instruction on the rules as they're applied.

Nick, the man behind, warns me that Grammarly shouldn't be used as a replacement for a professional proofreader. And I think he's right - a person who knows the rules AND understands story-telling is always going to be the best answer to these problems for a writer. But frankly, a proof-reader for my manuscript would cost me hundreds of dollars (perhaps even more than a thousand). That's money I don't have. is going to cost me $139.99 a year. And for that I can check every blogpost, every chapter of every book...even my promotional materials!

I don't exaggerate when I say this service is an answer to my prayers. 

Am I gushing? Okay, maybe a little... But I'm also being completely genuine. I'm excited about this tool, and am signing up. Because, as I noted at the beginning, my grammar could be gooder. Much, much more gooder.

Your Turn: Do you have any tricks or tools you use to help you in the proofing process? Have you ever used a proofreader? How did you find the experience?

1 comment:

  1. The grammar and punctuation checker free is a key to your potential writing services. It is incredible post. Well! This is really enjoyable post.