In-built copy editor

I know this a seriously ambitious feature request, but I think if you could do it, then it would really make Scrivener shine. It would put other writing software to shame.
I’ve just come across a superb website called I have no affiliation with it. I’ve simply started using it. You paste in some of your writing, a chapter at a time for example, and it does a basic copy edit. This is not one of those annoying grammar checkers you get in word processing programmes. This simply highlights the things writers need to know about. For example, all adverbs are highlighted in one colour (how useful is that!), all sentences ending in a preposition in another, all passive sentences in yet another colour. It’s such an easy way to track down and kill your adverbs, and spot other weak writing. (It even has another colour for ‘weak words’ such as ‘almost’ and ‘possibly.’
The only annoyance is that it can be quite time consuming looking back and forth, from the web page to your text in Scrivener, working through making the changes that are so badly needed.
If this was built into Scrivener, it would speed up the whole process significantly.
Go and give it a try, and please consider it for the future. I know it would be difficult to do. But it would be immensely useful, if it were possible.

I think Scrivener shines already. :slight_smile:

This is definitely beyond Scrivener’s scope - although I have no doubt that sites like this are really useful, I don’t think it’s Scrivener’s job to help users write well - that’s something the writer should bring to Scrivener. Or rather, each writer has his or her own preferred way of checking his or her writing style, and while some writers might find something like this useful, many others wouldn’t and would have other ways of checking or thinking about their style.

Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve so I really shouldn’t be here!

All the best,

Far be it for me to say a good word about the Dark Side, but I used to think that the Grammar check in Word was not that bad. You could turn it on or off, and at a late stage of drafting it was useful to have those adverbs and passive verbs flagged.

On the other hand, here are the elements that all writers should know:

  1. Don’t abbrev.
  2. Check to see if you any words out.
  3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
  4. About sentence fragments.
  5. When dangling, don’t use participles.
  6. Don’t use no double negatives.
  7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
  8. Just between You and i, case is important.
  9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
  10. Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.
  11. Its important to use apostrophe’s right.
  12. It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
  13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
  14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital and end with a period
  15. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
  16. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas to keep a string of items apart.
  17. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
  18. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
  19. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
  20. A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.
  21. Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.
  22. A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.
  23. Avoid clichés like the plague.
  24. Merry Christmas.

:smiley: And to you too, druid.

Because most of these inbuilt helpers work best for turning mediocre writers into properly punctuated mediocre writers (though, as Druid says, Word’s is sometimes useful for alerting us to our minor boneheadedness), I thought it would be entertaining to stuff the auto-editor with something that probably needs an awful lot of work, like, say, the opening paragraphs of Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

Turns out, Mr. Hemingway could use some help. Boy does he have problems, with all those flagged adverbs and incomplete sentences. And that weak “very” pulsing red in mid-sentence. Never mind that “very” is exactly what a Mr. Macomber would say in that particular sentence. Auto-editor is merely suggesting you find something a bit more Thesaurusist.

The thing about English-writing rules is, you have to know them, thoroughly, in order to break them. And if you don’t break them, and learn how to write real good, you’ll likely always be supplementing your writing income by inquiring in there’ll be fries with that clam roll.

Oh well, I didn’t say anyone had to use it. It would be a nice option is all. But since you’re all SO much more talented, intelligent and skilful than me I’ll keep my ignorant thoughts to myself in future, and slink off back to my hole of mediocrity.

Just for the record though - I’ve been a full-time professional writer for more than 20 years, with 100% of my income in all that time coming from the words I write. But still, what do I know? Sorry to have troubled you all.

Hi Simon T,

Mulling this over, I had a few thoughts. I completely see where this sort of notice would be useful, the same as a spellcheck or any other tool–obviously just because the computer points out a “weak” word to you doesn’t mean you have to change it, but it’s occasionally helpful to have “another eye” glance over the writing and just draw some things to light. So! Although this isn’t going to be implemented in Scrivener exactly as you describe it, there are a few tools Scrivener already has that you might be able to use toward this end.

  1. Project>Text Statistics will give you a sortable “word frequency” list to help identify words you may overuse, similar to what editminion does. These are per-document, so you can work on an individual scene or select the whole draft (you’ll need it to be in Scrivenings mode).

  2. The search function. You can select “any word” from the dropdown menu and then type in a list of “weak words,” for instance–either one you create from knowing your own weaknesses or one built on a common list (I’m sure you can find some in writing books or on the internet) or built off your “frequently used words” list. If you keep “typing clears search highlights” unchecked in the Preferences pane (Scrivener>Preferences:Editor; I think it’s unchecked by default) then the highlights will persist as you go through the documents and make any changes.

  3. Grammar checker. This is a traditional grammar checker, so it may not be quite what you’re after, but it can help in some regards–sentence fragments, modifier agreement, etc. Edit>Spelling and Grammar. (You can default to have it always on for new projects under Preferences:Auto-Correct.)

My last thought was whether there might be some sort of third-party plug-in that could offer this functionality without Keith having to include it in Scrivener specifically. It looks like editminion is in beta; you should suggest it. :wink: After all, a desktop version of Write-or-Die did come out after the browser version proved so popular. And meanwhile there may be something else offered by someone else? I’ve never looked, but it might be worth checking.

EDIT: Oh! Also, I missed this the first time I looked at the site, but on when you paste in your text and click edit, you have the option to “add hashtag.” If you do this, you can then copy all your marked-up text back into Scrivener–it won’t keep the highlights, but you can see “#adverb” or “#weakword”, etc., beside your words or phrases and use this for a faster editing–either working directly in that document or by creating a new document with this marked-up text and then using split screen to go through and make changes. (You might also combine this with the search feature to go through seeking all “#adverb” tags or the like so as to highlight them.)

I don’t think I said anything along those lines at all, so I assume (hope) it wasn’t just my saying no that has offended you. I just said that I don’t think this is Scrivener’s job - it’s beyond its scope. It would be a massive, massive job to implement something like this and it’s not something I want in Scrivener myself, so I have no real drive to spend months working on something I wouldn’t use.

Simon, it was Christmas Eve and I was in a jolly old mood. Never occurred to me that you would take offense. I listed those grammar errors because they amuse me and others have agreed. I do think it’s a risk to think that technology can replace basic human knowledge. But sorry if you were offended and got your nose way out of joint. Happy 2011.


Not only is case important, but so is using the pronoun “Me” in the phrase, “Between you and I.”

Just poking fun. :smiley:

Happy New Year!

I don’t think that’s Druid’s doing - that list has been doing the rounds on the internet for over a decade. :slight_smile: