In certain countries if somebody calls you “a tool” it’s not a compliment. The Urban Dictionary suggests being “a bit of a tool” can be emphasised with the term “tool belt” standing for somebody who is a bit stupid, or a liability.
Aussies and kiwis tend to use a similar “What a dick head!” but that’s another story, and normally doesn’t go down well in particular parts of America where Richards don’t actually mind having their names abbreviated to Dick (In the U.K. you’d be hard-pressed to find an actual Dick).
Ah, but I’ve digressed before I’ve even started.
Anyway, in this intermittent when-I-feel -like -it series, I’ll be discussing some writing tools – and no, unlike many, I won’t be hyping up Scrivener. Not yet, anyway. My first is free, and an editing tool.
SmartEdit by Bad Wolf Software
Firstly, it’s free. So you can’t beat that. Version 1.03 was released in June. The creators are working on a Pro version with more features, but if you’re a new writer looking at getting a grasp on your writing style whilst rewriting or editing, SmartEdit is worth a shot.
SmartEdit is for Windows users. The program reads in RTF files, and runs very quickly over these. I passed my 70,000 word manuscript file through SmartEdit and it pushed out the result report within less than 10 seconds.
The app provides a count on cliched word usage, overused phrases, adverb use, frequency of words, and usage of dialog tags.
I was pleased to find that I predominantly use “said” for dialog, but in this aspect there were several erroneous results where words were being counted as dialog tags when I hadn’t used them anywhere near speech marks.
I use English (Australian) grammar, which includes the ‘dialog’ and close-offs inside the speech marks (as against the double marks wrapped around dialog in American grammar) but SmartEdit didn’t appear to have a bother with my usage.
Frequent words and phrases for my manuscript report were a helpful eye-opener for me. I could double-click on a too frequent phase and find the entry in the manuscript itself, however only the first one. There appears no way for me to find all the places in the full manuscript where the bothersome phrases were being used. Again, there were some errors, but the lists and count features are customisable, so well worth playing around with.
SmartEdit isn’t an error-free or powerful little program, but perhaps the simplicity and quickness is what makes it such a helpful tool for writers. I know that passing my own manuscript through the app allowed me a quick and better understanding of my own writing hangups, and where to fix them. For new writers, that’s great.
And did I mention – it’s free.