Shocking news, I know, but my grammar/spelling isn’t perfect. Hell, sometimes when I’m clocking in my first draft, fingers racing across the keyboard, my spelling can get as creative as an elf’s name in a fantasy novel.
My day job is writing (ghostwriting, very spooky). My night job is writing (my own novels – even spookier). And while nothing beats a professional editor, it helps to hand them in something that’s, if not polished, at least not a rugged stone still muddy from the outdoors.
Now, there’s a caveat here – neither ProWritingAid nor Grammarly is perfect. When writing fiction, sometimes grammar rules are less important than tone, and sometimes their grammar rules misread what you’re actually writing. You can’t accept edits blindly, and you really need a foundational understanding of grammar to make either tool work for you (and your editor!).
That said, I do a run-through with both tools before handing my second drafts off to beta readers. It’s not worth it to use an editor before, especially not a line editor, because vast swaths of the story are likely to change in the first editing process.
If you’re writing fiction and you can only afford one, ProWritingAid is definitely my favorite. It makes fewer weird suggestions, tallies up repetitive words, and catches passive voice. Grammarly is fine for simple spelling and grammar mistakes, but if you aren’t a native English speaker or don’t have a good grasp of grammar, it can lead you astray.
Obviously, neither are necessary; I wrote for many years without either. But I’ve found my editors are happier with me now because no matter how closely I read, I’ll never have the distance from my work to catch as many typos and other mistakes as the software can. Without having to fix a thousand comma splices and missing words, my editors can focus on word choice, which makes for a much smoother novel.
Good luck to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo! You’ve got this. And keep an eye out for discounts! Even if you’re not typing away this month, it’s a great time to invest in writing software.