Five tools to improve your writing

Writing good be hard. But it doesn’t have to be (as hard). We’re sharing the hidden aces up our sleeves – the cards we pull out whenever we’re writing with bite, or if we find ourselves in a writing pickle or a word jam. Here are our five favourite (and free) tools that we think every writer should have in their arsenal.

1. Hemingway Editor

The Hemingway App is a multi-functional tool that proclaims to make your writing bold and clear. Once you’ve input the text that you’d like checked over, this clever little app will launch a three‑pronged attack to: (a) highlight lengthy sentences that are hard to read and could be shortened, (b) identify any unnecessary and complex words while suggesting simpler alternatives, and (c) point out use of the ‘passive’ voice and over‑reliance on adverbs. Use with caution! The last thing we need is for the app to learn how to write original content, or we might be out of a job. Welcome to the future.

2. Power Thesaurus

Power Thesaurus is the mother-of-all thesauruses. Built by users specifically for students and writers, Power Thesaurus describes itself as a “fast, convenient and comprehensive online thesaurus” and, boy, does it deliver on all fronts. Who knew there were 1,270 different ways to say “also”? Well, now you do too.

3. Lose the Very

Be very honest. Are you very guilty of using the term ‘very’ to help drive home your point? Lose the Very is a tool designed specifically to combat this dreaded and infectious habit. You simply enter the adjective you wish to use combined with the word ‘very’ and – hey very presto! – the app will instead provide a more concise adjective that covers both. How very cool nifty.

4. OneLook Reverse Dictionary

You know those situations where you can describe something, but can’t remember the actual term? OneLook Reverse Dictionary was created precisely for these encounters. You simply describe a concept (with as many words as you can muster) and then by what can only be described as black magic (or clever programming), OneLook generates a list of nouns, adjectives and verbs all related to that concept. You’ll never be lost for words again.

5. ‘Read Aloud’ function in Word

Discovery alert! You’ve probably been oblivious to the very existence of this function until now, like we were until last Tuesday. But hidden in the ‘Review’ toolbar is a ‘Read Aloud’ function that does exactly what it says on the tin. It reads, aloud, your written text in Word (2019 version and Microsoft 365 only, mind you). Mind blown. How many times has a minor typo or grammatical error slipped by you until you’ve actually paused to “sound out” a particular passage in your head?

It’s a bit like having J.A.R.V.I.S from Iron Man talking to you, in both the sound of the voice and because this feature feels like advanced technology. You almost feel as if you’re looking through Iron Man’s helmet, ready to perfect any project. Well, this might be a bit of a stretch, but you’ll be surprised by how having your own words read back to you can give you a whole new perspective on them.

So, there you have it, our secrets to writing success. Check them out, you’ll love ‘em.