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Super-useful SmartEdit for Word feature


…would be to be able to highlight text (w/ selectable highlight and font colors) by-category: adverbs, tag verbs, user-defined words & phrases. The highlights would persist even after SE is closed, but of course could be modified & cleared globally when revisions are compete.


This has come up a couple of times before and I’ve never been entirely sold on it. Mainly because while I can see the benefits for the results of a single check at a time being highlighted (adverbs say), highlighting every result type in a different colour when running all checks would lead to just about every sentence being coloured, sometimes multiple times, making it impossible to work with — possibly even a turn-off and deterrent, especially to new users.

One check at a time however, might have possibilities…


Or possibly a filter function so the user could see the results of one sort of check at a time? That way, on a large document, there would be only one pass to get all of the checks.


Adverbs are my personal bêtes noires: I use them in early drafts as placeholders so that I can get on with the primary story writing, then later strip most of 'em out and replace with new & improved prose. Using SmartEdit, I’m able to kill off 2/3–3/4 of those literary sins, but it takes time, skipping around one by one. Making them visible at a glance would speed the seek-and-destroy process.

Same with non-said tag verbs: a character might explicitly rage or sneer in early drafts, only to have their manner of dialogue deliver later implied otherwise. I always strive for untagged speech, but when I do tag, I try to keep >3/4 of the tags said.

BTW this reiterates my call for a statistics meter: % prose, % dialogue, w/w% adverbs in each, % dialogue that is tagged, and of tagged dialogue, the % tagged with said, asked, etc.

Between SE and PWA, I’ve been able to estimate some important stats so that I can spot-check where my writing lies along the continuum of pop-genre vs. highbrow literary:

Twilight (Meyer)
Word Count 123134
Dialogue: 29.1%, 31.0% Tagged: 27.2% “said”
Prose fraction 70.9%
Prose words (est) 87302
Adverbs Total 2234
In prose 1833
Prose fraction 1.49%

and at the other extreme:

The Sun Also Rises
Word Count 70470
Dialogue: 36.9%, 31.2% Tagged: 94.4% “said”
Prose fraction 63.1%
Prose words (est) 44466
Adverbs Total 419
In prose 253
Prose fraction 0.57%

So you can see that Ms. Meyer loves dem adverbs and juicy non-said tags, whereas the late Mr. Hemingway did his level best to kill off those evil puppies.


I like those breakdowns. SmartEdit already has all the information after you do a full scan, it would just be a case of putting it together in a user friendly way.

Although, the figures on their own wouldn’t have much value unless there were a set of stats to compare them against, as you’ve done with the above two books. A half dozen books from each genre, a mixture of quality and… the other. Could be very useful comparison.