Grammarly, a Review and Giveaway

“Magaly dear,” he said, “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

I pulled on the lapels of his tweed jacket, looked him in the eye, and told him, “I know, I know, darling Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, but mama never said the murdering would be this hard!”

Fine, so that exchange was probably the result of a coffee-induced hallucination—a common affliction among writers—but its nature doesn’t negate the trueness of its meaning: the Muse can run wild during the creation of a first draft, but when editing time arrives she needs to let Reason and Skill hold the pen… and the darling-murdering knife, too.

Self-editing is difficult work, especially when writing under a deadline. There is just not enough time to let a piece rest before having to revise it. The process gets easier when we find someone else who can read our work and offer feedback. Grammarly is a digital proofreading tool that could help a writer get rid of the rougher bits of a first draft before handing it over to a human proofreader.

Before I share screenshots that show how Grammarly works, I wish everyone to keep in mind that Grammarly is a tool. It can’t do more than what it was created to do. In my case, its strength lies in the fact that it forces me to pay attention to details, and it makes me question the reasons behind certain stylistic choices. I will use Grammarly’s review of Thorn in Red to explain what I mean:

1. Grammarly knows that “indefinite pronouns are always singular.” But no one told it that the pronoun in question appears in a line of dialogue, or that believable dialogue usually involves flawed sentences. 

2. If the following line had not been dialogue, I would have phrased the information differently.

3. I’m sharing this one because I was wondering if the program meant to say “Possible ‘s use error.” What do you think? “Impossible ‘s use error” doesn’t make sense to me. 

4. The grammatical explanation is accurate, but I wanted that comma (that bit of resistance) between striking with the blade and driving it home. Can you feel it?

5. Grammarly doesn’t seem to care for the names of any of my characters… ;-(

6. It will do what it was built to do. It didn’t say it was wrong, just that it was a common mistake.

7. This one is a mystery to me. Grammarly offers different settings: General, Creative, Academic... I used the Creative setting. I don’t understand the need for the “Academic” suggestion.

8. Great thing to know if this had been an academic paper. Still, the suggestion is useful to me. Bran babbles when he is nervous, so it is nice to know that he is acting like himself.

9. Grammarly does not suffer foolish generic words…

     …nope, it does not suffer fools.


Grammarly can’t replace the experience and intuition of a dedicated human proofreader, but it could help a writer murder a good number of irksome darlings before showing the work to outside eyes.  

Giveaway
Guess what, my Wicked Luvs? Five of you will get to explore Grammarly for three months at no cost. How cool is that? I think it’s awesome. Here is what you need to do to enter the giveaway:

Answer this Question – How would you benefit from a three months subscription to Grammarly

For Extra EntriesWorth one entry each. 
2Elaborate and/or ask a question concerning any of the points made on this post.
3. Be a Wicked Darling. Follow Pagan Culture.

* This giveaway ends on September 27th at 10:59 pm EST.
* The winners will be chosen using the ancient scientific method of throwing every participant’s name in a cauldron and selecting one without looking. Names will be announced the next day.

Good luck, my Wicked Luvs ;-)

33 comments:

  1. I tried to use Grammarly for proofreading of my articles for company's blog. Surely the tool cannot feel the author's style, hence not able to determine what was in author's mind, at least, to be close to understanding of it.
    I don't think I'd need Grammarly any time soon, but I will spread the word.
    (I need tips from you on how to enhance English vocabulary, and most important (essential, significant, etc:)) to USE these words in writing :)
    Blessings to you and yours, Magaly!

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    1. You know, I'm thinking that in the months to come (after October) I might post a few entries about the "tricks" I use when trying to become more proficient at reading and writing a new language. I bet Diandra and a few others might help *cough, cough*

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  2. Great giveaway!

    Let see, first it might proved to be a super help. I cannot type faster than my brain can think. My first drafts are full of funny typos i always seem to make especially when I am concentrating on getting the idea written. I skip putting in words, when I say no it is usually typed at not, all my there/theirs/there're get put anywhere. Add to that, I get visual fatigue and can keep missing stuff like that even when read a loud. Ultimately, I think that I can get my writing finished faster with a program like Grammarly and probably have all the basics covered... it would free me up to concentrate on content more. I think the suggestions, which may not always be what I want, would prompt me to at least look at my writing from a different perspective and consider changes I might not otherwise think consider. I think it would also provide a lot less work when it hits the editors desk. But specifically for the three months, would help me get my book finished!

    Now, #4 is interesting... I was writing a post using a long quote from The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury and noticed he likes sentence fragments... well, at least Word say they were. I like fragments too and I keep changing them back to complete sentences with more words because word says so. But I like a bit more punchy of writing and the least words possible. Sometimes, it reads like poetry. I imagine that Grammarly would bust my ass for that kind of thing... but I could be wrong... It might make it really hard to artistically decide to be Grammarly or to go with style.

    On number 3, isn't 'book's' used for denoting something that belongs to the book versus using it shorthand for 'book is'?

    Thanks for an informative post. I enjoyed learning about Grammarly.

    Mario

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    1. "Grammarly would bust my ass for that kind of thing..." I had to repeat it because it made me giggle too loud!

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  3. Style is the thing that you must excise. Style IS the darling, and anytime you hesitate over an edit, anytime you resist, you must submit and cut it out.

    ...Unless it serves the story. Necessity is boss momma of storytelling, she doesn't tolerate triflin'

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    1. Style should be used as garnish, methinks.

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  4. Don't count me for the giveaway, but I would like to comment :D

    Well surely the 's in the first sample is a contraction of "book is" so would be correct usage...and anything that has been done can not, by definition, be "impossible".

    We spell "ax" with an "e"...as in "axe" not "ex".

    "no one makes chocolate cake like my mother does" is NEVER an incorrect statement, as it usually results in the acquisition of free cake.

    Not all contractions are wrong.....some are extremely necessary...or we would be dropping kids all over the place.

    My English teacher told me that I used the word "nice" too often. Everyone else said "but she "is" nice sir". Sometimes a boring, generic word is sufficient.

    As a general rule..it is impossible for a computer to know if a name is spelled incorrectly. My Grandmother spelled my name 4 different ways and she knew it before I did.

    And, finally, if you did replace "much" with "many" in that last example, the sentence wouldn't make sense at all :/

    But as you have pointed out, it is a great tool for first reading, if only to remind yourself that we DO have superior thought processing to computers. (feel free to put that last sentence into the system and watch the programme crash lol)
    :D XXX

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    1. Hmmm I wonder how Alice in Wonderland would read? "Have you found your Many yet, Alice?" Much as well as gooder.... fine words! Many writers I know and love don't write "correctly". All hail the grammar anarchists!

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    2. I want cake. To eat as I fly down the rabbit hole. "Hail!" screamed Alice. "Anarchist, do you like my non-grammar?" *hehehe*

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  5. Is there an 'ignore rule' function, so that it doesn't keep talking apart normal human dialogue? And if so, does it work? (is that two questions? Maybe I should have used a semicolon. I'm so confused!)

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    1. There might be, but I didn't see it. It would be good for dealing with dialogue, but if we say something like "ignore sections in quotations" then what happens when we make a mistake in those parts? Very tricky...

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  6. I'm not 100% sure how I can bennefit, but I'm sure I can. It looks interesting and quite possibly fun to mess around with.

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    1. I found it fun (and bewildering) at time LOL

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  7. I have been flirting with Grammarly for a while now. Trying to decide if it is for me. A three month subscription? That would be just about perfect!

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    1. Well, maybe this will be the kiss that will seal the deal. Good luck!

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  8. Geez, I could use that to help me translate the rest of Helena's adventure. And give me a time frame to finish the translation - between vacation, holiday preparations, moving, work and such. ^^

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    1. I . Want . More . Helena . Now!

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  9. This tool has definitely drawn me in! As an author a three month subscription would be an amazing tool to aid my writing. This is especially true since I'm currently working on the sequel to Summer's Hollow. As you said it is a tool but I think it might be that extra set of "eyes" I need sometimes when in the trenches of my stories. So here I am flailing my arms screaming: Pick me!! ;-)

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    1. We all need that second, third, fifth... pair of eyes, don't we?

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  10. I have never heard of Grammarly, but after reading your information I would be more than excited to win a 3 month subscription. I'll be primarily using it to write my academic research papers over at Ashford. I'm always looking for a better way to bring the things I want to express to life in everything I write, so I'm sure I'd also put it through the paces with my blog or even some of the new fiction I've recently been encouraged to try my hand at.

    OH! Of course I *follow* Pagan Culture.

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    1. I used it to revise this post and it found two typos. I thought is was pretty cool ;-)

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  11. I get what it says about 3 - kinda sorta. It is impossible in that the apostrophe s at the end of book must be to denote a possesive and not a contraction, therefore it is impossible (gramatically speaking) for the apostrophe s to be used there. I think. LOL

    And yes, it seems like a good tool - a bit on the nit picky side, but that is helpful because it makes you carefully look and chose when you decide to bend and break grammar's rules to fit the style of prose.

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    1. I agree on that 3 is "grammatically correct," but I think that it should have overlooked the apostrophe because I was using the Creative setting and not the Academic one. Maybe Grammarly's creative soul is very academic LOL

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  12. This is AWESOME.

    And, I think on #3, that 'impossible 's use' is sort of the title of the error. As is, 'this 's use is impossible, and is an error.' Which seems to be wrong, since you're using it as a conjunction, not as a possessive 's. Still, you really can't blame a computer program for not being totally clear on all the muddied waters that are English. This language is a rationalist's nightmare.

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    1. It was my thought exactly. Maybe it should read something like "Possible erroneous use of 's" or something like it. Yep, English is a rationalist's nightmare and a surrealist's dream ;-)

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  13. Just out of curiosity - how does this tool differ and/or improve upon Microsoft Word's built-in grammar tool?

    Now, to enter: I have got 20 stories spread over more than 100 separate files on my hard drive (I tend to keep chapters in separate files when I'm sure of chapter separation), none of which have ever been completed (save for a few uber-flaky short stories)... and something like this could... encourage; nay, inspire... me to complete one or two. Or more. *crosses fingers*

    Point #4... after reading over it a couple times, I find myself agreeing with Grammarly's assessment. The extra comma feels extraneous, and makes the sentence a little stilted... if it were me, I would instead use an additional descriptor of some sort (whether a single word or a short phrase) there to add emphasis.

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    1. When you find a clear answer to your "curiosity" point, do share it with moi LOL

      Yay! on tackling all the unfinished bits!

      On point #4, Grammarly's assessment is indeed correct. The "uncomfortable" comma is there on purpose. I want the reader to stop a bit, to stumble, to be annoyed by it, to feel some pressure... no one should be feeling smooth and cool while someone else is getting eye-gouged. Ooo! I like that last sentence. I might have to quote myself in a bit LOL

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  14. Lovely, thoughtful giveaway, Magaly.. But if I processed anything I type into it, I believe it would deny me all future access to my PC.

    Besides, with all the self-appointed grammar experts on the internet, I think I am covered.

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    1. I almost died laughing as I read this comment!

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  15. This might just be the kick in the butt I need to get really working on my novel! Which would be a great benefit.

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    1. Well, let's pray for hypothetical kicks in the rear then ;-D

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  16. Sorry to say, it's all confusing to me! LOL! Do what works for you Magaly ;o)
    I hope whomever wins your giveaway, really gets good use out it ;o)

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