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SmartEdit Goes Pro

BY LYNN VIEHL

Last summer I discovered a freeware editing program called SmartEdit, www.smart-edit.com, which analyzes any text you feed to it and provides lists of and stats on adverbs, clichés, repeated words, and other problematic content with the text. The program was so useful that ever since I’ve been recommending it to other writers.

In December, SmartEdit went pro, and while it is still available for a ten-day free trial, a license to use the program beyond that now costs $69.95. The real question for me was, is the pro version worth the investment? I decided to buy a license, put the program through its paces and find out.

First, the differences between the two programs

The freeware version of SmartEdit checks:

Repeated Phrases List, Repeated Words List, Adverb Usage List, Monitored Words List, Cliché List

The pro Version of SmartEdit checks:

Repeated Phrases List, Repeated Words List, Adverb Usage List, Monitored Words List, Cliché List, Dialog Tag Counter, Separate Dialog & Prose Checks, Misused Word List, Foreign Phrase Usage List, Profanity Usage List, Suspect Punctuation List, Proper Nouns List, Acronyms List, Sentence Start List, Sentence Length Graph, Smart & Straight Quote Checker, Dash and Hyphen Checker, Word, Character & Page Count

One thing I have to note here is that I did fry the computer on which I had downloaded the old freeware version so I can’t pull up the old program to double-check if there was anything else it did; I’m going by the notes I put together for last summer’s post on it.

The first thing I noticed as I started up the pro version is that while the basic layout is still the same the program looks much more polished and professional and (obviously) has more options to offer. SmartEdit’s scans can be fine-tuned to suit your needs, and also may serve more than one purpose. In addition to searching out problem areas, you can use the program to edit anything from a scene to an entire manuscript in one shot, discover what, as well as where, your weed words, echoes and other writing weaknesses are, and even create a style sheet for your story.

As before when I test drove the freeware version, I decided to feed SmartEdit Pro the manuscript for Taken by Night, which was my 50K NaNoWriMo novel and a story that hasn’t been edited by anyone but me with the daily edits I did while writing it. I didn’t refine any of the scan parameters on the first pass in order to get back the most comprehensive report, and the first report was 210 pages long (which I reduced to 51 pages after eliminating info like all the words and phrases I had repeated only twice, which are reported as a single column.)

As with the freeware version I learned a lot from the scan. The top five phrases I repeated most often were one of the (33 times), out of the (32 times), the rest of (29 times), in front of (17 times), and in the park (16 times.) These are all phrases I would hunt down and weed out as much as possible, along with my individual weed words (i.e., 87 eyes, 41 doors, 39 nods, and 31 voices.)   

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