In the past few years, various software applications have emerged that automatically correct basic issues of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The most popular is Grammarly, an online grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection platform developed by Grammarly, Inc. First released in July 2009 and now a ubiquitous feature on nearly every website that requires writing, Grammarly’s proofreading resources check the text against a suite of grammar rules and point out perceived errors as well as the solutions.
It’s an effective and useful tool for detecting the obvious mechanical errors in a document. You might even say that Grammarly has supplanted the services of human proofreaders. As recently as a few short years ago, proofreading was a service commonly offered by professional editors and ghostwriters, but no longer. Thanks to Grammarly, the market has evaporated.
But clients who want their books to rise above the ordinary and stand out in a crowded marketplace know that Grammarly is not the answer. While Grammarly is useful if you want your book or report to read like everyone else’s, and it’s effective for dry, boring text, it does nothing to improve the ideas you’re presenting in your book, whether it’s a non-fiction self-help book or an exciting novel.
Great Writing Goes Beyond Grammarly
In any book, how you express your ideas, and the clarity and vividness with which they impact the reader, are far beyond the limited mechanical capabilities of Grammarly. Great writing makes an emotional impact on the reader. It thrills, delights, warns, or soothes them. To accomplish your mission, you often need to violate the rules of grammar to effectively reach your reader. In fiction, particularly, authors often use “incomplete” sentences convey their ideas with impact. Consider this hypothetical excerpt from a thriller:
“Hands up,” barked the gangster.
Judy saw the gun. Big. Loaded. Pointed at her head. It meant death – quick, brutal, bloody. Her hands flew up. Words stuck in her throat. Stomach churned. The black muzzle grinned. No saving you, it sneered.
And so on – you get the idea. Only a skilled editor can help you improve all the critical elements of your story, including plot, character, pacing, suspense, your unique voice, and the other ingredients that make a book a compelling must-read!
In non-fiction, Grammarly can’t elevate boring, repetitive writing that lacks spark and sounds like everyone else. It can’t contribute new ideas and make the unexpected connections that make your book stand out. For maximum impact, and to put your book on a level above the ordinary, you need a skilled, professional editor or ghostwriter who will give your writing the magic touch readers crave.
- Thomas Hauck is a professional book editor and ghostwriter serving a wide range of clients from major New York publishing houses to first-time self-published authors.