Paid and Free Editing Software For Manuscripts

I’m stuck in the writer’s cave right now with yet another round of edits. It’s tedious and often boring, but, considering I’m not sure I’ll have enough money later to hire a professional editor, it’s worth it. That’s why I’m doing this round with free editing software.

Using software to help you edit your manuscript isn’t an easy cheat. You’ll still need to do the work of re-writing and you’ll still need your beta readers. However, editing software can make self-editing a little less worrisome.

There are a lot of different online options, both paid and free.

Paid versions

If you’ve got the money, you might be interested in AutoCrit Editing Wizard. I didn’t find the demo useful because the 1,000 words I chose always came back with an error. That could have been because my WIP is a fantasy with mages and magical cats who use incantations the software couldn’t read. If that’s the case, it makes me wonder just how useful this software is in its full version.

Also, in order to use AutoCrit for more than just 1,200 words per day (that’s 400 words 3x per day) and receive more than 3 reports, you have to spend a lot of money. There are 3 memberships: Gold (1,000 words for $47), Platinum (8,000 words for $77) and Professional (100,000 words for $117). You get more goodies  the more you spend, but if I’m going to spend that much money for my WIP I think I’d rather hire a human being.

Free versions

I’m happy to say I’ve found 3 online self-editing programs that are free (or inexpensive). I use all three together because each program catches something the others miss.

I use EditMinion first because it highlights adverbs, weak words, said replacements, sentences ending prepositions and passive voice in different colors. It wasn’t until I ran my first couple scenes through this free editing software that I realized I was in love with adverbs and had a real problem with passive voice.

Next I use Pro Writing Aid. This free editing software catches things like sticky sentences (sentences with too many glue words), vague and abstract words, overused words, repeated words and phrases, complex words and pacing. Like passive voice, I have a real fondness for sticky sentences, and this program finds those with ease.

Last of all, I use ClicheCleaner. It’s great for finding cliches and redundancies. You can download a free demo version that lets you scan up to 20 documents before needing to pay $12.95 to do any more. I downloaded ClicheCleaner because I always thought I had issues with using too many cliches. After using this free editing software, I was surprised to find I don’t have a big problem after all. Of course, even one can be too many.

Whether you choose to pay for your self-editing software or use a free version, remember that a program cannot replace a human being. The great news is, after running your WIP through the programs and correcting all those errors, you may find you can afford a human editor after all.

How do you self-edit your manuscript? What paid and free editing software have you used?

23 Responses to “Paid and Free Editing Software For Manuscripts”

  1. Wow, how cool that you can get an editing software package. I’m using a human to edit my novel this time around. I’m still waiting to hear from her, so fingers crossed there won’t be too many red marks on the page. Before that, I went through four betas ~ who all had great advice/criticisms. Believe it or not, they all had different critiques, too! That was the best.

    I’ll have to check out some of these writing tools, though. It’s never too late to learn more and like you said, if they can help even in the slightest, that makes the book better than when you started. Thanks!

    • vripple says:

      You’re welcome. After this round of self-edits I’ll be sending my WIP to several more beta readers. I’d love to have a human editor, too, but at this point I don’t have the budget for it. I’m glad you have good beta readers and an editor. Here’s to getting back a clean MS. :)

      • Robyn Oakes says:

        Sorry, this is a bit after the fact, but I just followed the link from the Passive Guy’s tweet. Did you skip a copy editor too, or just a developmental editor? Because I’m thinking of skipping a developmental editor but paying for a copy editor just so I don’t embarrass myself too much.

        • vripple says:

          I think if you have to choose one or the other, and you’re certain about your developmental abilities, the copy editor is the best choice. A great way to check your developmental abilities is to run your work by some writer friends who really want to see you succeed. They’re usually great at spotting plot holes and things that just don’t make sense.

  2. [...] to spend that much money for my WIP I think I’d rather hire a human being.Link to the rest at Virginia RippleClick to Tweet/Email/Share This Post wpa2a.script_load(); Editing, Writing ToolsNo Comments to [...]

  3. Jon says:

    Have you ever tried After the Deadline? I’ve not used it for anything major, but it seems to do okay with shorter pieces like blog posts.

    http://afterthedeadline.com/

  4. Iola says:

    I think there needs to be a balance between automated editing and the human touch. For example, a human might miss some adverbs or repeated words, but the machine will find these. Equally, a machine might highlight sentence fragments, or pick up grammatical errors in dialogue (both can be fine, particularly in dialogue where they reflect the way the character speaks).

    If you ever get to the point of needing a human editor, feel free to look me up.

    • vripple says:

      I totally agree. I don’t think I would trust a machine to catch everything and I know from experience humans miss things, especially when the story is so good you can’t help but get wrapped in it. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. My first editors are the members of my critique group. We’ve been doing this for about 22 years now and all are published. But having software sounds like a great addition. Thanks so much, I am going to check out all of these. :-)

  6. I gave Pro Writing Aid a try and found it quite useful, though i can see that sticky sentences are going to be a problem. Esp. since I write historical romance. Readers of the genre don’t seem to mind slightly more convoluted sentences.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to paste some Austen or Dickens in there and see what happens?

  7. JR Tomlin says:

    I have to say that I thought your analysis of AutoCrit was not completely fair. I am not necessarily recommending it, but it is much better than you seem to state. I used it a few years ago and just retested it with a sample of a current WIP. It came back with no error. Why you were getting an error, I couldn’t say, but it doesn’t seem to be typical of the site.

    Also, you didn’t make it clear that the Gold (1,000 words for $47), Platinum (8,000 words for $77) and Professional (100,000 words for $117) memberships all allow unlimited submissions per day.

    You might prefer to pay a person. Actually, I would too, but I don’t think you will find many who work for $77 or $107 for an entire manuscript. So, for people who are looking for editing software, I’d say that AutoCrit is worth at least looking at. It may or may not be helpful to any particular individual, but it should receive a fair analysis.

    • vripple says:

      I don’t know that I was being unfair given that the demo version is supposed to be the evaluation tool one uses to decide whether or not a product is worth purchasing. I would point out that I included Autocrit even though I didn’t prefer it and I didn’t say it was a software to be completely avoided.

      As I said in the post, it didn’t work for me, but that could have been because my manuscript was not something easily understood by software. It is very possible the software would work for anyone else, though I have heard from others who agree that it wasn’t the best fit for them.

      As for not making it clear about the unlimited submissions, that may have been because I was unclear on it myself. I’m not sure how you can have unlimited submissions and a limit of 1,000 to 100,000 words per membership level. I am guessing that it means you can submit 1,000 to 100,000 words at a time, but you can submit that number as many times as you want per day.

      I’m glad Autocrit has worked for you and I agree everyone should take a moment to give it a try because it could work for them as well. However, I believe, given what I just said about a demo being how we evaluate whether or not we choose to buy a product, I did give Autocrit a fair analysis. I tried it. It didn’t work for me. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone as anything more than a possibility, just like any other software.

  8. Hey, these are great resources, thanks for bringing them to my attention. As a test, I ran the first chapter of my second novel through them and I seem to have a number of ‘sticky sentences’; oh dear!

  9. [...] I gave some proof-reading tips in a previous post, and Virginia Ripple has posted links to the editing software that she [...]

  10. TONY says:

    hello
    please how can i use your editing site for my manuscript?can you help for a trial?can i send it to you and help me out with it please.
    thanks

    • vripple says:

      Tony,
      I don’t own an editing site for manuscripts. If you want to use those I’ve listed, simply click any of the links and it will take you to the site. Best of luck.

  11. Yvonne Brown says:

    Thanks for this very helpful information! It is very helpful!

  12. I am currently publishing my first book, I need an editor however I was thinking of buying a software, I know nothing bits a human touch but can the software really do a master job. I want to try Whitesmoke, does it worth it.

    • vripple says:

      I’m not familiar with Whitesmoke, though I think I’ve seen a few people mention using it. As with any editing software, you have to remember that it can only do so much. A good spell check program will catch most of your spelling errors, however, it can’t catch instances where a word is spelled correctly, but used improperly. An editing software helps you find errors. It doesn’t fix them, nor will it make a poorly written story better. I highly recommend trying ProWriting Aid‘s free site tools before buying anything else. This program gives you the opportunity to decide if editing software will help you or not. If you do decide to go with Whitesmoke, I would love to hear how it works for you.

  13. Shawanda says:

    This was such a useful and informative post. I’m in a very similar position, and am in search of effective (and low or zero cost) alternatives to edit my first novel. I’ve heard of Pro Writing Aid, but not the others you mentioned; they sound very interesting. I’m really intrigued by the sequence of steps you listed in this post. I may model my process the same way. Thanks for sharing!

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