First, some technical tests. The ProWritingAid Web Editor doesn't have any options to style your text while writing. It feels somewhat strange after using Grammarly's Web App. The Apps has a lot of proofing tools and options. It's always good to see options for other English variants than UK and US. If you're going to use it, you'd need to put in the styles or Markdown after you're done checking it. Or just like me, use one of the other ProWritingAid Apps.
Let's continue to ProWritingAid Desktop App. It caught my eye because it claims to have support for Scrivener projects, Rich Text, Microsoft Word, Open Office, and Markdown documents. Markdown! That's exactly what I need! It doesn't have a Linux version, and the Windows version doesn't run in WINE, I tried. Maybe I'll have more luck with the MacOS version and darling, but that'll have to wait for later.
So for testing, I run it on a Windows machine. The software looks much like the Web App, but the options are in the native menu bar, making them much easier to access. There's also a word counter at the native status bar. They said Markdown so I that's the first thing I load into the software. I see I can even open a whole folder. That would make things a lot easier if my dream features work. Well… it just loads the file as plaintext. It treats any Markdown it encounters as interpunction and gives me interpunction mistakes. Sadly, I can't even properly disable that rule. And it doesn't ignore the front matter! Just as I get my hopes up, a big letdown… But those were just nice to have things.
Next, we have ProWritingAid Chrome Extension. Extensions for other browsers exist, too. But I'm using a chromium-based browser. And it works! So far with every editable box I had around the extension found it and did its checks.
So I did some workaround for my setup. I have a local testing environment anyway, so I set it up so the chapter area is editable when I'm in development mode. And it works! Last time I tried with Grammarly, it didn't even want to look at it. Yes, I'm still copying the corrections to my editor. But this is only one-way now. That's an improvement over having to copy it into Google Docs, fixing it up, and copying it back.
All following tests, I did with the extension.
Let's start with the thing I immediately noticed: I'm thrilled to see the extension catches all wrong closing and opening quotes. Yes, smart quotes can be nice. But they can go horribly wrong, so I prefer manual “curly” quotes.
With term that look similar to existing people and things, it suggests you might have mixed up the spelling. I didn't know there was a John Wentworth. And no, the character I made is in no relation to the other guy! I was just pulling out names from a list of Forenames and Surnames… Disabling the rules about the mixup adds the name you use to your personal dictionary. I'd like to add the names of all my characters and terms to that. But trying to add them manually, the website doesn't let me enter anything with spaces, only single words.
Unlike their competitor, it's nice to see the writing styles changes the suggestions you get for your text. With hints to encourage “show don't tell”, the
General style is aimed at Creative Writing. I'm also thrilled about the option in the
Script style to disable the suggestions about the use of passive. They have even more styles I'm not getting into. ProWritingAid has a nice blog post about their Writing Styles.
While we're at styles, I'd like to request a feature that checks speech with the
Script style. I mean it properly detects quotation marks. I know I'm asking a lot.
It didn't give me the Markdown support I hoped for, but it's still good to use for creative writing. While my dream features will are still far away, I'll be using ProWritingAid for now. I'm not even through my free trial yet, and I'm already preferring ProWritingAid over Grammarly. Well, if I have the money for it, that is. 20 bucks is quite a lot of money for someone that writes for a hobby.