Brilliant Writing Awaits?

Brilliant Writing Awaits?

When I started the Problem with Uncle Teddy’s Memoir, I didn’t realize it was the first installment of a trilogy. Characters have a life of their own and, as only the writer, I feel I’m just along for the ride.

The second installment (an ‘equal’ rather than a ‘sequel’) Saint John’s Ambulatory is out and selling (thank you!).

That brings me to my work in progress, Aleronde The Great, the third installment. The first draft is done, with all the lowered expectations that accompany a first draft. I’m now rewriting, salvaging, finding notes to myself I had forgotten, and trying something I haven’t seriously used before: Grammarly, the web-based grammar and spelling checker.

I have the add-in for Word. Grammarly sits, as does spell-checker, like a vulture waiting for one’s writing to die.

Once activated, it checks the entire document. It finds far more to complain about than the default Word spelling and grammar checks. Enough, in fact, to make one feel initially like a fraud.

My wife (and editor) tells me I use ellipses too often… In my defense, my writing is heavily weighted to dialogue. I actually struggle to include enough description and stage direction.

Grammarly highlights every use of ellipses other than at the end of a sentence. For me, that’s a lot. It’s tedious, annoying, and a little challenging. “But sometimes…you know…it might be right…”

In other checks, Grammarly is equally rigid. It’s as if a computer were checking your writing. Oh, wait…

And there, as Shakespeare would have it, is the rub. The product’s slogans are “Great writing, simplified” and “Brilliant writing awaits.” It claims you now have “An AI-powered writing assistant.”

Not so fast, Grammarly. I would still back a human against an AI in a writing competition. I’m not holding my breath for AI generated literary characters to have a life of their own, even within the limits in which they exist for human writers.

As one tool among many, Grammarly is fine. But it won’t write for you. It won’t always be right when it tells you you have broken a grammar rule, or used the wrong word. It will, however, flood your document with red marks and often provide an necessary challenge.

I guess that’s enough.
Oh, and it’s free…

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Copyright Ed Charlton 2022