Whether you’re writing a fiction piece like a novel or a non-fiction piece like a blog post, editing will always play a big part in the process.
Not many people enjoy editing, however. They bemoan the analysis required and the painstaking eye for detail they must adopt. Many want to hit that publish button and get our writing out.
But skimping on editing could cost you dearly. It’s here where the real writing is done, all loose ends are tied together, and where you polish your writing so it shines.
Over the years, several tools have emerged to help make this process easier. These handy tools are often free from passive voice checkers to spelling and grammar detectors.
In this guide, we’ll look at some of the best available tools. But first, let’s look at editing in a bit more detail.
The Different Types Of Editing
If you’re new to editing, it can help to understand the different types. Each one has its own specific focus and purpose. Understanding their roles can help you when it comes to the process of revising your writing:
- Developmental Editing – This type of editing focuses on the overall structure and content of a piece of writing. In fiction writing, this may include an assessment of the plot, the characters, and the pacing of the story, as well as the theme. Developmental editing aims to make the manuscript as strong and compelling as possible.
- Substantive Editing – Also known as content editing, substantive editing involves improving a manuscript’s style, flow, and organization. The focus will hover over the language, tone, and the writer’s voice (informal, formal, or bloggy). The goal of substantive editing is to enhance the readability and coherence of the manuscript.
- Copyediting – This type of editing involves correcting grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax errors. When copyediting, it’s important to check for formatting issues to produce a polished and error-free final draft.
- Line Editing – Linked closely to copyediting, line editing focuses on the finer details, like the choice of words, sentence structures, and the pace of the writing. Line editing aims to enhance the readability and impact of the writing.
- Proofreading – This is the final check of the written piece before it goes to print or is published online. When proofreading, you’re looking out for any spelling errors that may have slipped through the net and any punctuation or formatting problems. The goal of proofreading is to ensure that the final product is accurate and professional.
What Free Tools Can You Use To Help With Editing?
When it comes to editing in our modern age, we have at our disposal a number of powerful tools, many of which are free. These easy-to-use devices can help us sharpen our prose and help us improve our writing as a whole.
Let’s take a look at some of the best free editing tools.
Grammar And Spell Checkers
Grammar and spell checkers have been in use for a long time. The earliest word processors would highlight misspelled words and suggest the correct spelling for you to change it to.
The way they work is quite simple—they’re just plugged into a dictionary, and if the word doesn’t match, it highlights it as an error. Historically they haven’t been great at this, however.
For example, you could misspell a word you’ve only heard someone say. The way you’ve spelled it could be so wrong that the spell checker tool can’t work out what you want to say.
However, modern editing tools like Grammarly are better at trying to understand what you mean. You can use free options that plug into your web browser or word processor. They’ll highlight any misspelled words; the more advanced versions may even suggest fixes, like restructuring the sentence.
Passive Voice Checker And Converter
Passive voice gets discussed a lot in the context of writing both fiction and non-fiction. It is, however, an issue that many writers experience. The reason for that is that many of us talk passively. As a result, it almost feels natural to use.
The issue writers face, though, is that publishers and readers don’t like reading writing that’s been crafted in the passive voice. This is because it can slow down the piece, make it dull and convoluted, and overly wordy.
In comparison, a piece of writing written in an active voice is more immediate and gripping, with the language much sharper and easier to understand.
However, mastering passive voice is tough, and the reason why (as mentioned before) is that we use it so often in our natural dialogue. It’s also quite a complicated rule to get your head around.
Luckily for writers, tools like a passive voice checker are available to use online. These tools highlight passive sentences; some even offer the ability to convert them to active voice, saving you trouble.
So there’s no longer a need to pull your hair out regarding passive voice. Try a detector and converter tool instead.
Text To Speech
Text-to-speech is a simple technology that’s been on word processors like Microsoft Word for some time. It simply converts written text into spoken words, which can be beneficial in many ways when it comes to editing your writing.
The biggest benefit of this editing tool is that it can help you catch errors you might miss when reading silently. When you read something aloud, you engage different parts of your brain. The process can therefore help you become more aware of issues relating to grammar, flow, and sentence structure
Text-to-speech also allows you to focus more on how your writing sounds and the chosen words. It can also help you work out the rhythm of your writing and how clear your points and sentences are.
It can also help you identify any inconsistencies in your writing. For example, you may have overused a word that jars when read aloud. The speech function lets you identify things like this and make quick editorial changes.
Adjective And Adverb Checker
Famous writers, from Stephen King to George Orwell, have spoken about using adjectives and adverbs in writing.
Stephen King famously said in his book “On Writing” that writers should avoid using too many adverbs and adjectives. He suggested this to keep your prose focused and on point without delving too much into florid descriptions, which are often unnecessary.
If you use too many adjectives or adverbs, it’s quite easy to fix. However, reviewing your novel, short story, or blog post and identifying each is quite a manual editing task.
Thankfully for writers, editing tools exist that remove all the manual aspects of dealing with adverbs and adjectives. The Hemingway Editor, for example, automatically highlights adverbs and adjectives when you paste your text into the tool.