Is Grammarly Good for Creative Writing? 6 Top Tips

Discover the answer to the question is Grammarly good for creative writing in this article based on our extensive tests using this grammar checker.

Grammarly is a popular grammar checker that many writers use to find and fix errors in their work. It’s also popular with people who use the written word as part of their day job, for example, writing emails, business cases, documents, etc. Grammarly excels at finding and fixing grammar errors and improving the readability of a piece of writing. But what about using it for creative work? Can you use Grammarly for your novels, short stories, and poetry? 

Yes, Grammarly can help you fix grammar and spelling errors for creative writing. However, if your work contains unusual character names, descriptive language, or literary sentences, either configure Grammarly differently or decide what to ignore or reject.

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Creative Writing Traits

Creative writing typically comprises novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and scripts. Each of these types of creative writing projects has different requirements. For example, a novel is tens of thousands of words in length, whereas poetry is several dozen words in length, or if a haiku, it could even be shorter. 

Creative literary writers use lengthy sentences to express themselves eloquently on the blank page and show what’s possible with the English language. A genre fiction writer penning science fiction, horror, or thrillers may use unusual character names for their stories. A fantasy author may have spells, magical systems, and so on that rely on invented words which aren’t found in a standard English dictionary. Similarly, a scriptwriter must format their work in a certain way. For help doing that, check out our Final Draft review.

Creative writers rely on literary devices and descriptive language more than writers producing a blog post, article, or business case. The specifics of a creative writing project and the medium dictate how writers can use Grammarly to find and fix grammar and readability issues in creative projects. With that said, here are some tips that can help you. 

1. Use a Style Guide

Is Grammarly good for creative writing
The Grammarly style guide and dictionary are useful for creative writers

Grammarly premium supports creating a style guide and custom dictionary. If you’re a creative writer who relies on unique character names, words, spells, and magical systems, it’s distracting to see these flagged as grammar errors.

Add them to your custom Grammarly dictionary and or style guide. That way, they won’t be flagged as errors. Grammarly will then identify if you spelt a character inconsistently. 

2. Change Goals to Creative

Grammarly offers several options that tailor its fixes, suggestions, and recommendations. To use Grammarly on a creative writing project, adjust the goals as follows:

  • Set domain to creative
  • Set intent to Tell a story
  • Set audience to General 

These settings reduce the number of irrelevant errors and suggestions Grammarly proposes and offer a wider berth for creative writing projects. 

3. Turn Off Grammar Checks for Dialogue

Turn off grammar checks for dialogue
Amend your Grammarly dialogue settings to use it

Often, a grammar checker flags dialogue as containing difficult-to-read words, imprecise language, etc. Changer Grammarly so that it doesn’t check dialogue for grammar errors. That way, your characters can talk naturally without these being flagged as potential issues. 

4. Check Your Readability Score

Thriller authors like James Patterson typically write short paragraphs that are a single sentence or perhaps two sentences in length. They don’t rely on complex sentences, words, or phrases. I put a short story extract from Patterson into Grammarly, and it got an excellent readability score. On the other hand, I tested some literary fiction, which was flagged as hard to read.

Check your readability score
A James Patterson readability score in Grammarly

However, if you’re a creative writer who relies on literary devices, descriptive language, and long rambling sentences, ignore Grammarly’s suggestions to fix readability issues. That’s because it comes down to a question of style and not an error.

5. Decide What to Accept and Reject 

Grammarly is a writing tool that suggests rather than prescribes suggestions. A business writer may follow what Grammarly suggests closely. However, breaking some rules and ignoring recommendations is fine if you’re a creative writer. Best to know what they are first and then write consistently. Grammarly can help you with that by explaining the finer points of grammar.

6. Check For Passive Voice Issues

Author Ernest Hemingway famously advocated against using the passive voice in stories and fiction. Grammarly is good at finding instances of the passive voice that seeped into first drafts, manuscripts, and creative projects. You don’t need to fix every instance. If you’re using the passive voice deliberately, then it’s okay to ignore these suggestions. 

Grammarly is good for creative writing projects if you want to find common grammar and spelling errors. Although not a replacement for a proofreader, it can help you improve the readability of a piece of creative writing and ensure consistency. However, creative writers must make more decisions than non-fiction writers about what suggestions to accept versus reject. By adjusting Grammarly’s settings, you can do just that. For more information, check out our Grammarly review.

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