Is this grammar review tool for real?

You can toss your red pens. Trash your erasers. No more crinkled up 20-pound cluttering the floor around your desk. The tool to make you a perfect writer has arrived.

A company called WhiteSmoke has apparently developed the grammar review tool of all grammar tools. It alleges it can make all your writing perfect all for the low, low price of $84.00. It not only checks spelling, grammar, punctuation and word choice errors. It will also “enrich” your text (whatever that means) and enhance your sentences. It will suggest and automatically make stylistic changes for you too.

No more painful proofreading, No more nights lying awake wondering whether you forgot to set off that non-restrictive clause on page 78. No more stiff editing fees. The grammar review tool does it all for you. All you gotta do is slap a bunch of words on the page, highlight the text you want to be perfect, click F2 and watch this miracle techno writing wonder do its thing. And voila! You’ve got yourself a best seller.

Yessir, the WhiteSmoke Writer claims you’ll “write English like a professional in just a few minutes.” Writing problems solved. I could have skipped Mary Beth Vaughn’s third period English class. And I didn’t need all that senseless diagramming Mrs. DeLong shoved down my throat.

Now before you Google this amazing new Eighth Wonder of the World, I want you to read portions of a product review by someone in the tech blog biz. Here are a few of the statements from his preview. These are real quotes. I am not exaggerating.
“Are you one of the many who struggle to have the skills to write english (small “e” his) that’s grammatically correct and have it be something people want to read?
“Keep reading – you’ll be glad you did. No doubt you’ll be raising your eyebrows at first, but i (small “i” his—you have to force this error. MS Word auto corrects it to cap I if you type a single “i”) have discovered a one-of-a-kind utility that instantly detects and fixes any errors in your english (smalll “e” his). Distinct from the word processing programs most of are familiar with, this technology not only corrects writing errors, it actually rates your written output on a scale of 1 to 5. Just imagine making your sentences accomplished, correct, and unforgettable without having to enlist the help of a proofreader or tutor.”

And here’s a real beaut: “Only when you start using an English grammar review tool you will surely agree as to the wonderful assistance that it supplies. . .Because this discipline seems to have no bounds, One (comma after “bounds” and capital “O” both his) can only guess the future of computer program development in the next few years.”

My educated guess is this blogger saw the tool, which is actually called WhiteSmoke Writer, at http://www.whitesmoke.com/tour and decided to write a review about it. Here’s the link to his actual review on his blog : http://bit.ly/946Ow4

Only one of three things can be true here:

  • the blogger never bought the software (and he obviously didn’t use it himself to write his review)
  • he bought the software, installed it, but didn’t turn it on when he wrote his review
  • he bought it and turned it on, but the WhiteSmoke Writer doesn’t work

Even if the tool walks, talks and digs holes, I don’t know a single writer who has ever become a good writer “in a few minutes,” or overnight, or after a few composition courses, or after obtaining a degree in English. The only way to write well, or improve your writing, that I know,  is to study grammar and composition, to read, and to practice writing, not just for a few months but forever.

We won’t dwell here on the things that make good writers. But I’m pretty confident that there never has been, nor ever will be, a set of CD’s capable of making one a good writer, no matter how good the software is at flagging or correcting errors writers make.

Now where’d I put my red pen?

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