SmartEdit has had two product updates since my initial review of the product so I figured it was also time for an updated review. I had some PC issues so I never actually got to try version 2, so I skipped directly to SmartEdit 3.011 (released August 8, 2013) and opened my current Work in Progress (due to the publisher in 4 days, while I leave for a convention in Savannah, GA in 2 days–fyi).
The first thing I noticed upon opening the updated interface was the Word Processor feature and the New Document option, so you can write directly into the SmartEdit window. And where the first version I’d tried required I save my Word .doc as an RTF, the program now supports the Word .doc (and I read, also OpenOffice). This will save me a step and some time.
The Adverb Usage List still remains my favorite feature and that’s the function I go to first to purge my manuscript of junk words. I usually end up cutting over a hundred unneeded words from a full length novel. The other things I loved in the original version–the Repeated Words, and Repeated Phrases, and the Proper Nouns checks are all still there and again have proven themselves invaluable. It was through sorting the Proper Noun list alphabetically that I realized I’d accidentally called the cowboy’s buckle bunny one-night stand Tiffany once, while she’d been Tammy the other 31 times. (Such are the hazards of a romance writer…). The one change I noticed was that all lists are now fully sortable by column, which I love (see more on this later).
There is a Suspect Punctuation List which called me out on my exclamation points, which I use sparingly to begin with but it doesn’t hurt to review them, and for a newbie, this is important because the tell of a writing rookie is the overuse of exclamation points. It also found where I’d added an extra space.
But amid the good old features, there are a few new things I noticed…
The Sentence Start Check can now be alphabetized (which I believe was one of the improvements I suggested in my initial interactions with the developers). So cool that it can be sorted by a count of the uses OR alphabetically. So when the results defaulted to show me I’d started sentences with “He” 482 times, and I knew there was no getting around that in a 62,000 word document about a cowboy, I switched to alphabetical mode and scrolled through to words I knew were an issue for me, such as the 5 sentences I began with the word “actually”. Not horrible for a book this length, but still I figured I could do better. I reviewed those particular sentences, and chose to change a few, which is easy to do by clicking on the sentence fragment in the results window. Then I found I’d used “All right”, “Well” and “Just” to start far too many sentences and I had some more work to do…
I wasn’t sure what the Redundancies List was until I opened it, then I realized exactly what its function was when I saw I’d written things such as “the exact same” when just the word “same” would do. Now, in my writing, with a lot of dialogue between bull riders talking to their best buddies, I can get away with things not being perfect because we all know people don’t always speak in perfect sentences, but still a good feature and worth looking over for any changes that will tighten up the writing. We can all do away with some of the “stood up”s in our writing because really, “stood” will do.
SmartEdit 3.0 is more robust than the original and easier to use than ever. My only remaining complaint is the lack of Mac support but I am willing to squint at the teeny screen and be frustrated by the Windows 7 platform of my Acer just to use this program, which stands as a testament in itself.