Most of them can be tested online in a free version which usually does the job - if your willing to snip your text in little fragments and repeat the process over and over.
Which I'm not.
I tried, but I got confused where I was before and corrected the corrections of a corrections. That's the fun with some of these programs: They never give up making suggestions. So even if you've already followed suggestions like a newborn lamb, if you return, you will discover that the same text accepted a moment ago, now sports fresh sins conjured in writer heaven!
And beware! If you stick too close to them you will loose your darn (I intended to use very here, but Mark Twain insists I use this instead) own language. I tried that for fun in testing modes and after five programs and some doubles because of amnesia, I wondered who wrote that piece of sh.t. That was probably the most boring, back stabbing condensed robot gobble I have ever come across!
So look in on those suggestions, some are wise and kick-start braincells banging against the wall, but do NOT follow them as the general rule - especially when it comes to Dialogue!
The up-beat version doesn't come free - of course, but after tons of comparing I have acquired ProWritingAid www.prowritingaid.com. Not only covers the free version more than some others in their paid one - it's cheaper too! And last but not least it has a word add-on as well.
I find that especially useful as I tend to transfer files from my writing tool to word to check on formatting and follow up on the green squiggly lines (who usually tell me that it's a fragment - so what, it's mine! - or about the sentence that is lost in a department store in Paris and would like to be picked up and told about the meaning of it's existence. Sometimes I remember.)
Now I can run a variety of reports and apply changes the voices in my head agree with.
You can take your pick from:
|I used a paragraph of the "Little Prince" here and was happy...|
The sticky one drives me completely nuts, but as a regular routine I run Overused Words, Cliches and Redundancies, Repeated words and Phrases and as a last check-up the Grammar. If it's not yet time for tea, I sometimes follow up with the nouns too. Did you need to ask? Of course the sentence length report is the first - just so I can be proud of my fresh clipped ones just corrected in word (and that darn thing tells me it's still to long. Hello? It's not over two paragraphs anymore!!)
A good internet connection is a must - my old machine isn't so fast itself - but yes, I can recommend this. What is even better: There live REAL people inside ProWritingAid! I had some technical issues and spent an entire day with one of their guys - first trying to solve over e-mail and then he hijacked my screen. For some reason he appeared to run out of patience and wanted to take matters in his own hands after six hours of trial and error - well mostly error. After that I refrained from calling him for a virtual date on my desktop that night.
Anyway, before you stumble nose over toe into the other well known programm - compare yourself!
Oh - and PWA is a sweet guy, but can't substitute real critters ;)