Friday, June 23, 2017

A Few Toys for Writers

Or perhaps gadgets instead.

On the amusing side, there are two gadgets that claim to tell you what famous writer your style most closely matches.

According to I Write Like, my trunk fiction style most closely resembles Agatha Christie's, although I have yet to see a #PulpRev writer who hasn't scored the same. Mark Allen Thornton, however, has used a wider array of authors from Project Gutenberg books to create his own version. His widget is more dependent of "stop words"/"sticky words" and punctuation marks in an attempt to peg certain writers on their lexical density. It is amusing, and perhaps these toys will connect more writers to the canon of the past.

Those looking for help with editing may find the next one more useful.

The Hemmingway App is a free editor designed to make your prose clearer. As you can tell from the name, it does have a stylistic bias that prefers the sharp bold directness of Anglo-Saxon root words as opposed to the languid elegance of the Romantic root words. It uses formulas to determine how easy a passage is to read. Generally, the longer the sentence and the more polysyllabic words, the harder it is to read. Note that this a contextless survey, as many clear and grammatically correct devices of rhetoric get flagged. Hemmingway also searches for adverbs and passive verbs. While it doesn't have the bells and whistles of the paid editing software services of AutoCrit, Grammarly, or Pro Writing Aid, I have found Hemmingway useful in aiding my own writing. Just keep its bias in mind.

If you are going to drop the coin, I recommend Pro Writing Aid as the most powerful and cheapest of the three services. I do like AutoCrit, but its new pricing model is prohibitive for a system that only checks 1000 words at a time. I remain unimpressed with Grammarly as a service, as it trips up on certain simple and complex grammars that the other two services do not. The free plug-in, however, is useful as a slightly more powerful spell-check.

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