As a writer, I want my writing to be as good as I possibly can. English is my secondary language, so I’ve been using Grammarly to clean up my English for years and am very happy with it. However, ProWritingAid seems to be a much-loved alternative, so am I missing out? Should I change? The readability test in WordPress loathes my writing, flagging passive voice, few transition words, and repetitions. So I have this nagging feeling I should do something. Is ProWritingAid the answer?
I first heard of ProWritingAid on Joanna Penn’s podcast, and we all trust Joanna, right?
My bias here is that I am a Grammarly user considering switching, not the other way around, meaning I wrote the text in Grammarly, accepted most of the suggestions, then pasted the text into ProWritingAid to see what more ProWritingAid offered. I am not sure this is a fair test, but it is what I did.
The following accounts for my first few hours with the ProWritingAid:
1) Test one: Google Docs integration. It probably works great, but it asks for full google account access. This is probably standard practice, and I am naive, but this is scary. No, no. no.
2) Test two: Using the web editor, meaning cutting and pasting text chunks, feels safer, so let’s do that. The free version has a 500-word limit, and I do not know of any other limitations off the top of my head.
I paste a problem text into the web editor in sizable chunks, and ProWritingAid’s rapports give me suggestions and advice that is helpful. I actually learn stuff, so this is good.
3) Test three: I want to speed this up for longer texts, so I activate the trial period.
My workflow suggests the final edit pass is on the Windows desktop, not my Chromebook, so I’ll try that.
I enter the exact problem text into the desktop app. Everything seems to work fine, so this should be very helpful.
4) Test four: ProWritingAid now warns against long texts, although Joanna Penn mentions you could load the whole book. I get this, my aging desktop has seen better days, and I suppose this is complex.
I accept that this will not work perfectly, but I want to see what the software can do.
So I load my 850-page OpenOffice world guide, gleefully expecting ProWritingAid to collapse. 20-ish minutes later, as I am writing this, the text is still loading. Currently at 66% Score, with nearly 3000 errors (probably many fancy fantasy names) and suggestions. Editing the entire document in a single file will not work, at least with my current desktop computer. However, it did not collapse until I asked for the Combo rapport, which I think is terrific. Initially, I was not sure what happened — did it crash or just slow down completely? Hard to say, but nothing happens for the next ten minutes, so I guess that answers my question. Still, pretty impressive.
5) Test five. This is not a test I planned, but I got it anyway. The ProWritingAid software starts with the previous file, which crashed above and now crashes again. Did I break the program? Probably not, but the “close” file option is grayed out, and the app is spinning its wheels. Deleting the 850-page test file broke the loop. I wisely made a copy dedicated to this test, so kudos to me.
So what does that mean for me?
The text you’re reading now was written in Grammarly, which the app gave a 99% score after many corrections and improvements. This also included advice for “Empty phrase” errors I do not understand. Reloading the app, the nonsensical errors were gone. Grammarly reported different errors upon reloading, so refreshing the text appears to be a good idea.
In the end, Grammarly reported two suggestions I disagreed with (or at least I did not understand, so I left them in the text).
ProWritingAid gave this text a 70% score, catching an “–” for an em-dash. The other suggestions are about structure, including one passage with passive voice. Also, I did not change “very happy” to “thrilled” which sounds excessive, and I got a “missing verb” error I did not understand.
Also, changing “complete” with “ultimate” sounds wrong in this context.
Looking at the problem text, the text you’re reading now, and a couple others I’ve tried the past few hours, I need more help with passive voice, transition words, sticky sentences, glue words, and overall readability, especially with non-fiction. Note, I did not know any of these terms, except passive voice, before trying ProWritingAid.
At one point, Grammarly clearly pointed out a monotonous passage, which ProWritingAid did not catch or probably buried in the rapports.
AI-assisted writing is loads of fun.
In conclusion, after perhaps five hours of working with ProWritingAid, I think I will learn more from ProWritingAid than from Grammarly. At least, WordPress approved upon uploading this post.
But is ProWritingAid actually better? I have no idea.
Image by Pexels Free Photos.