No computer software can replace a trained editor, but it can serve as a grammatical safety net before your work meets a professional’s eye. ProWritingAid goes beyond basic spellcheck to provide writing suggestions tailored to what type of writer you are (fiction, nonfiction, blogger, academic, copywriter, etc.) in addition to flagging spelling and grammar errors. The software also offers integration with Microsoft Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, Final Draft, and most web browsers.
Free for basic usage, $20/month or $79/year for premium
Similar to ProWritingAid, Grammarly is another popular grammar checker that also offers writing suggestions to help writers trim redundancies, overused words, or passive voice. It cannot be tailored for specific genres, but the premium version will skim your content for tone to help ensure your prose matches your subject material and target audience. Both Grammarly and ProWritingAid offer plagiarism checkers in their premium versions, a boon for writers and editors alike.
Free for basic usage; $29.95/month, $59.95/three months, or $139.95/year for premium
If you’re prone to clichés and you’d prefer a more streamlined way to identify them, try Cliche Finder, which will flag all the potential overused phrasing in your prose.
Why stop at a dictionary or thesaurus to find just the right word? MasterWriter has both, along with searchable databases of word families, allusions, idioms, intensifiers, onomatopoeia, and more. Poets and songwriters will especially enjoy the rhyming dictionary database.
Monthly license $9.95, annual license $99.95, 2-year license $149.95
It’s happened to all of us: We know that a word exists to describe someone or something, but we can’t for the life of us come up with that word. Enter the OneLook reverse dictionary, which encourages writers to type a phrase or related word so the site can display a variety of related words. A simple search for “baby kangaroo” reveals joey, for example; “wine god” suggests both Bacchus and Dionysus, but also “bacchanalia,” “dionysiac,” and Silenus, a lesser-known companion of Dionysus. You can also ask questions, like “Who is Big Bird’s friend on Sesame Street?,” or solve crossword clues when you don’t know all the letters.