12 Aug To Grammarly, or not to Grammarly?

Writing tools aren’t always the best judges of copy

The rise of the online writing tool has brought AI galloping to the rescue of anyone who feels less than certain about their writing skills, less than 100% of the time.

Without doubt, they remove a lot of the stress and uncertainty around tricky issues of spelling and grammar. Especially in formal reports, assignments or presentations, where language is a reflection of professionalism and must be faultless.

As an aid to writing and assessing copy, however, they can fall short in a number of ways.

The best copywriting brings an individuality to the brand it’s representing. That often comes from playing, if not hard and fast, then at least a few a miles an hour over the speed limit with the rules of grammar.

But applying those rules through the coldly objective screen of an online writing tool tends to squeeze out that individuality.

The oddities that contribute to a distinct tone of voice. The quirks and misconstructions that make so much memorable advertising … well, memorable. The sentence fragments. And the sentences that start with ‘and’ (which, whatever you’ve been told, are perfectly correct and acceptable).

Besides, when it comes to rules, aren’t they things we’re meant to be breaking in pursuit of clicks, eyeballs and enquiries?

Something else the grammar bots don’t allow for is the rhythm of a piece of copy. Every copywriter will tell you about the writes, the rewrites and the re-rewrites they go through to get the rhythm of a sentence – the bounce, if you like – just right.

An extra syllable here to hit the beat. A flourish of alliteration there to make your point.

This isn’t a writer’s self-indulgence; rhythm is the undercurrent that pushes good copy effortlessly along. You hardly know it’s there but, boy, do you miss it when it’s gone. Your previously eloquent argument starts to stutter, stumble and trip over its own feet. And before you know it, you’ve lost your reader, and your chance to close the sale has gone.

The point is, copy that’s been screened by robots will inevitably come across as robotic. In any case, even with all their AI to draw on, they don’t always get it right.

The one time I dabbled in grammarcheck.net, it offered me this piece of advice: ‘Strong verbs are easier to read and use less words.’ And if you can’t see the howler in that short sentence, then maybe you should step away from the writing tools and hire a flesh and blood professional instead.

This post has been adapted from an article that appeared in our DGR copywriting and content review – DGR Ink where you will also find other copywriting guides including:-

 

If you’d like one of our copywriting team to cast an eye over a piece of your advertising copy and show you how it can be improved, why not send it to the DGR Copy Clinic?

Or if you have a project on your desk at the moment that you would like to discuss why not give John a call on 07976 305 118.