February 22nd, 2017

I use Scrivener for my writing, and I love it - but.

I Googled it quite a bit and saw that last but quite a bit. Apparently, I'm not alone in my conditional praise. One of the things it lacks is really good grammar checking. I've written before about Microsoft Word and its own shortcomings, so I won't go into that again. Instead, I'm here to preach the wonders of Grammarly. There is hope brothers and sisters! Here's an example sentence in Scrivener's Spelling/Grammar checker:

Example text in Scrivener

Nothing? Really?

Here it is in Word:

Example text in Word

Not much better. It caught the first missing comma but missed the second.

And finally Grammarly:

Example text in Grammarly

Now, I won't say that it's perfect. It's not. It complains endlessly about my use of Passive Voice, Overused Words, Incomplete Comparisons, Unclear Antecedents, and something called Squinting modifiers whatever that is.

Whatever you do, don't just change everything it tells you to because it does make mistakes or I suppose I should say wrong guesses. But for all its flaws it's wildly better than the alternatives.

One more caveat: it's expensive. There is, of course, a free version but it doesn't really give you a good sense of all it can do.

Oops, one more: it's also awkward to use. I have to run it side-by-side, copy-and-paste, and go back and forth to make the changes in Scrivener because Grammarly removes all the styling. There's a plugin for Word - but only the Windows version - no help for me.

So, this is starting to sound like a rant against Grammarly, and that's not what I want. Here's some perspective:

Not perfect:-5 Points
Expensive:-10 Points
Awkward to use:-15 Points
Way better than
anything else I've tried:
+200 Points

To drive that last part home, here are four mistakes from the published version of Brains In Chains that got past a dozen people. All of us missed these. All our tools missed them. Only Grammarly caught them.

Toggle changes

  1. Gillian Franks came highly recommend and her fee reflected it.
  2. ...he stuffed two thousand dollars into the salesman hand.
  3. ...the Brazilian people are the best, and the food is great, but the fuel cam be a bit dodgy.
  4. That’s sounds like a good thing. Right?

Now, take something you're really proud of - something already edited, paste it into Grammarly, and prepare to be humbled.