Two Awesome Online Tools to Improve Your Writing (For Free)

By Dr. Rohi Shetty

“For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can.
Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.”
~Ernest Hemingway

Which among the three stages of writing do you find the most daunting—prewriting, writing, or rewriting? Most writers would probably say it’s revising and editing their work. For example, Oscar Wilde is reported to have said, “I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence…. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

However, revising and editing your work is crucial to your success. If your article is sloppily edited, it is unlikely to be published. One of the enduring principles of good writing is to write fast and to revise slowly. As Justice Brandeis said, “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.”

Unfortunately, the eye cannot see what the mind doesn’t know. Therefore, it’s vital that you seek outside help to revise your work. But what if you can’t afford a professional editor or have a tight deadline? You have two options: the first is Grammarly. The second is Hemingway Editor. It’s like a spellchecker, but for style so that the focus is on your message, not your prose.

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. His understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction. The Hemingway Editor is based on his love of clarity and precise sentence structure; it makes your writing bold and clear.

Readability Grade Levels

Hemingway judges the “grade level” of your text using the Automated Readability Index. It gauges the lowest education needed to understand your prose. Studies have shown the average American reads at a tenth-grade level — so that’s a good target. For example, Hemingway’s work scores as low 5th grade, despite his adult audience. A high grade level often means it is confusing and tedious for any reader. For example, Hemingway has rated this article as Grade 6 (Good).

To help you notice sentences that are difficult to read, Hemingway highlights them in yellow. For the most difficult sentences, it highlights them in red. You can either remove needless words or split the sentence into two.

Write and Edit Modes

When you click on the “Write” button at the top right corner, Hemingway turns into distraction-free writing mode. Once you’re finished, click on “Edit” to turn on the editing mode. Now you can make changes with real-time Hemingway feedback. Alternatively, you can copy-paste your work directly into the editing window.

Adverbs

According to Stephen King “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Hemingway highlights adverbs in blue to help you replace them. For instance, instead of saying that someone is “walked fast” you can say they “hurried” or “rushed.”

Simpler Words

Hemingway highlights complicated words in purple to help you follow William Safire’s satirical advice, “Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.” You can mouse over these words to get a better alternative.

Passive Voice

Ensure that the subject of your sentence is doing the action, not being acted upon. For instance, “Roy wrote an essay” is better than “the essay was written by Roy.” Hemingway highlights passive sentences in green.

Break the rules

All of Hemingway’s suggestions are just that: suggestions. Ignore any of them that you feel are not right or relevant.

Text Formatting

When you click on your writing, you’ll see a formatting bar appear at the top with options to make your text bold or italic, and to add bullets, numbers or hyperlinks. You can also turn paragraphs into different heading sizes:

P: A standard paragraph.
H1: The largest heading, used for document titles.
H2: The second-largest heading, used for major sections.
H3: The smallest heading, used for minor sections.

Free and Desktop App

The online version of Hemingway is available for free. The desktop version ($19.99) has many more features and you also get free upgrades.

Help

Send an email to 38longllc@gmail.com for any additional help.

Action step:

For best results, use both Grammarly and Hemingway to revise all your writing. If you use Window Word, you can also use the inbuilt Spelling and Grammar checker (Keyboard shortcut: press F7). And after that, read your work out aloud.

Join the conversation:

How do you revise your work?

Have you tried any online tools?

Let us know in the comments below.

Related article:

The Best Online Tool for Writers

(11 January 2017)


Rohi Shetty is a doctor, health writer, and editor. Check out his website at http://rohishetty.com and connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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