Self-edit Your Novel (Part 1B)

PWA Editing Guy

In this multi-post series, you’ll discover techniques and technology that will help you self-edit your novel by using ProWritingAid, and I encourage you to read my review.

Structure (Part 1B): ProWritingAid

Why Learn to Self-edit?

Consider these reasons to self-edit:

  • A professional edit can fix many issues, but unless you’ve hired a ghostwriter, the editor will not rewrite your story.
  • A self-edit:
    • Tightens loose structure
    • Fleshes out underdeveloped characters
    • Fills plot holes
    • Clarifies theme
    • Lowers the potential cost of a professional edit

Why Multiple Posts?

The posts will cover editing steps to enhance:

  1. Structure
  2. Characters
  3. Plot
  4. Theme

I’ll break down the topics and divide each step into short posts. As to technology, I recommend:

And to illustrate the editing techniques, I’ll base examples on the Cozy Mystery subgenre, but the methods will work for other genres.

ProWritingAid Benefits

ProWritingAid can help you:

  • Decrease reader frustrations by correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation issues.
  • Reduce critical reviews caused by embarrassing errors.
  • Improve the consistency of sentences.
  • Edit Scrivener documents with no copy and paste.

Use ProWritingAid to answer these questions:

  • Does your draft contain passive and hidden verbs, too many adverbs, and repeated sentence-start words?
  • Are there misused terms, such as “adverse” when when you meant “averse?”
  • Have you overused words, undermining your message?
  • Do clichés and redundancies creep into your work?
  • Have you found and rewritten awkward sentences to increase clarity?
  • Is the wording and sentence structure right for your target audience?
  • Does the same word appear several times in one paragraph?
  • Do the sentence lengths and mix add variety to your writing?
  • Have you used too many pronouns?
  • Does your writing transition smoothly from one idea to another?
  • Are there any inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, and punctuation?
  • Have you eliminated any slow-paced sections?.
  • Does your writing show emotions rather than tell about them?
  • Have you simplified overly complicated writing?
  • Have you selected the right words whenever one or more sound the same but have different meanings?

Edit Scrivener Files

Load your Scrivener file into ProWritingAid’s desktop app and edit individual scenes. For example, this Cozy Mystery scene initially contained 416 words and eleven issues.

PWA Before Edits

Let ProWritingAid walk you through the recommendations. The edits cleaned up the issues and reduced the scene to 281 words.

PWA After Edits

Although ProWritingAid offers excellent recommendations, you must evaluate whether the suggestions support what you want to say. The choices you make often serve as catalysts, encouraging you to become more creative.

Dialogue Report

For example, the Dialogue Report identifies “unusual dialogue” tags to replace with with action beats.

  • Unusual Dialogue Tag: “You said what?” he asked, balling up his hands.
  • Action Beat: “You said what?” He balled up his hands.

Grammar and Style Report

Here’s a real-time demonstration of the Grammar and Style report:

Sentence Length Report

ProWritingAid helps you sort out sentence structure and length to enhance readability.

After you complete and save the ProWritingAid edits, reload the file into Scrivener and review your work.


Consider these suggestions:

  1. Read the ProWritingAid review and discount offer to see if it’s right for you. The alternative is Grammarly, which requires a copy-and-paste operation, and unfortunately, that can introduce unexpected edit issues.
  2. Take advantage of the discount offer and perform scene-by-scene edits.
  3. Use Scrivener’s status setting to denote the stage of editing. Within Scrivener’s Project Settings for the Status List, edit labels to match your preferences. For example:
    • No Status
    • To Do
    • In Progress
    • First Draft
    • First PWA Edit
    • Metadata Edit
    • Second PWA Edit
    • Continuity Edit
    • Third PWA Edit
    • Final Draft
  4. After making updates to a scene, rerun ProWritingAid and eliminate any issues that might have crept in as you made edits.
  5. Use ProWritingAid to spur your creativity, rewriting sentences and paragraph that will resonate with your readers.

I’ve learned that self-editing increases my creativity because ProWritingAid’s recommendations stimulate thinking. Also, the more I use the app, my mind puts the prior suggestions to work and I make fewer errors.


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