1. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Simplify my writing...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Magnatolia, Apr 1, 2014.

    Hi guys,

    I bought ProWritingAid a while back and just installed the add-in to Word. The diction report is pretty good, finds words that are classed as weak, or prepositions that are used to end a sentence (annoying when they're in dialog though).

    Anyway, they give me the occasional word and tell me to simplify. Here's two examples:

    Before: The lips pulled back to reveal a set of sharp teeth.
    After: The lips pulled back to show a set of sharp teeth.

    Before: The light from his torch revealed a small room.
    After: The light from his torch showed a small room.

    I don't mind if the second choice is better, I just want to confirm if you guys agree with this. Replacing words like reveal to show for instance.

    Also what is it called when you do the following:

    Before: They couldn't see too many zombies around.
    After: Not too many zombies around.

    I know it's two-part remove, and filtering. Just wondering if it has a technical name and whether something like that would be picked up in one of the reports that ProWritingAid offers. I know it's generally words like watched, saw, noticed etc - the narrator telling what's happening.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Also, if that last point isn't picked up by the reports what's the easiest way to dig them out? Searching for sentences beginning with words like They, and There, and looking for words like saw, thought, watched, etc?

    Thanks!
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    "Reveal" and "show" are not exactly the same thing. "Reveal" suggests that something was hidden and is now in view (or that a secret has been disclosed). "Show" suggests that the ability to view was always there but has now been highlighted. In your first example, the choice would depend on what your intention was in the passage. In the second, the context suggests that "revealed" is the meaning you are actually seeking. The formulaic approach of the software will likely fail to pick up on these nuances, since the programmer could not know what is inside your head.

    Your last example is indeed an example of filtering. It's a very common habit and one that requires diligence to break.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this is an example of why the best writing 'aid' is your own brain...
     
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  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. This software is nothing more than someone trying to cash in on someone else's insecurities.
     
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  6. AndyC
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    AndyC Member

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    I've always disagreed with the way a lot of people use "synonyms" to replace one word with another. There might be words with similar meaning, but there aren't two words that mean the same.
    Each word has it's own meaning, and it's up to the writer to know which one would fit better the context of the sentence.
    I have to say that I'd rather try to come up with those "perfect" words myself (and probably failing a lot of times before I get it right) than relying on a software to do it for me.
    That's just my opinion.
     
  7. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Yes. You reveal something by uncovering it as in the case of the teeth.

    To the OP: If the suggestion is not what you want or makes the sentence feel awkward, ignore it. Whose book is this anyway? :)
     
  8. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @JetBlackGT Thanks, yeah I just wanted clarification if I was using the right word in that case. Which I was, as it has more impact when something is revealed.
     
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  9. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    I use PWA and I do find it useful. What you need to remember it's only a complex algorithm, it cannot 'read' a story. What it does is zero in on what may be an error or a less than ideal word choice. You have to look at the suggestions and accept or reject them.
     
  10. Nightstar99
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    Nightstar99 Contributing Member

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    I think I would rather staple my head to an echidna than use this software.

    If it's undermining your confidence as a writer so much that it has you doubting that you can decide whether to use 'show' or 'reveal' then it's a prime candidate for the Recycle bin.
     
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  11. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    Just use the search facility.
     
  12. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sounds like a bogus program. None of the great writers of the past were dependent on these luxuries. I think you would be better off throwing it anyway.
     
  13. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    It's actually quite good.
     

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