In the UK, the proofreading tool Grammarly has been advertising hard on TV. I’ve been curious for some time about what such an app could offer in terms of creative writing. What those ads claimed Grammarly was capable of only piqued my interest.

But I didn’t want to spend money on something that could just be a glorified spell checker. And their free version appeared to offer little more than that.

Before I committed to anything, I wanted to investigate the other options out there. It turned out Grammarly was only the tip of the iceberg. Ginger. Autocrit… that’s just a few of the ones I found.

However, they all suffered from the same problem. They offered a basic free version which was too basic, giving me zero idea of what the more advanced features could offer me. Google serves as a thesaurus, and my office app does the spell checking. I don’t need another tool for any of that.

Then I found ProWritingAid. Now I don’t know whether it’s the best, but at least it offered a taste of its many features straightaway - grammar, style, readability, pacing, alliteration, etc. The only limit is that it will only process 500 words at a time.

It’s been interesting seeing what it highlights, and it’s a reminder just how “blind” you can become to your own work. For instance, I had one sentence that included the words “he dropped down from…”. Now down is obviously unnecessary, and it’s so obvious in hindsight, but how many times have I missed it?

I was sceptical what these tools could offer me, hence my hesitation to spend any money on them. But when used as part of a final polish I’m beginning to think they could be very useful.