APRIL 2013 UPDATE: A new version has been released. I hope to test it by month’s end when I finish my current work in progress. Please note the following review is for a past version, not the most recent.
Some of you may remember my Tools of My Trade blog series. I did it in July of 2011 and again in July of 2012. One of the featured tools I wrote up, which I use for every manuscript to clean it up before I submit to my editor, is SMARTEDIT.
Imagine my surprise when the developer of SmartEdit contacted me asking if I’d like to try out the new version they just released. Being a technology geek, I of course agreed. I downloaded the new version and used it to go through the 82,000 word romance novel due to my editor at Kensington on January 1st. By the time I was done, the program had identified, and I had cut hundreds of unnecessary words out of the manuscript, making it stronger and cleaner.
Here are my initial thoughts while they are fresh in my head. To save time and effort, I have pulled some of the feedback I emailed to SmartEdit for you all to read here.
ADVERB USAGES LIST- this alphabetical list is by far the most useful for me and the reason I started using the program to begin with. I go through and cut out as many of the unnecessary ‘ly’ words I can.
REPEATED PHRASES- Also an eye opener. I LOVE that it gives the count of how many time I use certain phrases.
REPEATED WORDS- Again, important feature. Love the count of how many usages. For this one I really would like to see it be able to be sorted alphabetically because there are a few words I know I overuse and I’d like to scroll directly to them to see exactly how many times I did. I gave this feedback to the developer and he will look into implementing this function in a future release.
MISUSED WORDS- This is an alphabetical list of all those words we all misuse from time to time. Those things that SpellCheck won’t pick up the misuse of, such as there-their-they’re. And Your-you’re. It highlights other possible misused words as well. This list can get a bit long. I check it for shorter works. For longer works, it’s too overwhelming and I don’t.
PROFANITY USAGE- This function cracked me up, but again, it can be an eyeopener. Some of my characters cuss a lot!
SENTENCE LENGTH – this was interesting. I never knew I had so many 1 word sentences–1,400 of them in an 82,000 word book. I’m blaming it on the many sections of dialogue and not worrying about it.
CLICHE USAGE and DIALOG TAGS. Two more functions that will help an author to avoid repeating things. The Dialog tag count would be a very useful feature for an aspiring or new writer. The industry is moving away from using them and using ‘said’ has long ago been beaten out of me by my editors, but overuse of dialog tags is a sure way to spot a newbie writer.
PROPER NOUNS- very useful because I’ve been known to suddenly spell a character’s name differently halfway through, or to start writing my heroine Emma as “Emily” because I was also editing a book for a different pub where the heroine’s name was Emily, while I was in the middle of writing the Emma book. Anyway, having all the proper names in a list that is alphabetized helped me to check that and save the embarrassment.
ACRONYMS list was nice. I write a lot of military romance which is full of these. I could see how many, and I could go to each instance and make sure the reader will be able to understand it from the context.
SENTENCE START LIST- A very useful list, but again I suggested the ability to sort by alphabet, instead of just by number of times used.
SUSPECT PUNCTUATION- this function will pick up double punctuation, and other things like that. The only thing for me this list picked up was where I’d accidentally put 2 spaces between words within a sentence rather than 1.
PROPERTIES TAB- this was nice. I found that I had some straight quotes mixed in among my curly quotes, and 1 ‘en’ dash amid my ’em’ dashes. It also had word count.
There are a few other features such as FOREIGN PHRASE USAGE, and a place where the user can customize the program and search for specific, user-specified words.
Full disclosure, I didn’t explore the HELP tab or watch the video. I just went in and opened my file and went to work. The program may do even more than I found, had I taken the time to do that.
Check out SmartEdit. As far as I can see, you can download a free trial of the full version to use for 10-days after which you can choose to purchase a license, or you can download a free version with limited functions. Go give it a try and see how it works for you. I know I’ll continue to be a devoted SmartEdit user, smiting those pesky adverbs where ever I find them!
Oh, one more point, to date there is no MAC support, but as I said back in July after first discovering this tool, it is useful enough I am willing to break out the old half-broken PC just for this.