Monday, September 15, 2008

AutoCrit

I just got a new toy two weeks ago. As many of you know, I’m slicing and dicing my baby to get her down to a marketable word count. It’s proving to be a slow, painful process. At this point, I need all the help I can get. I’d heard about AutoCrit (http://www.autocrit.com/) before, but figured now was the time to give it a whirl and see what all the hoopla is all about.

First off, for those of you who don’t know, AutoCrit is an on-line manuscript editing wizard that analyzes your manuscript, checking it for a wide variety of writing errors and weaknesses. It finds:

  • Overused Words
  • Repeated Phrases
  • Sentence Length Variation
  • Repeated Words
  • Dialogue Tags
  • First Words
  • Names and Pronouns
  • Frequent Phrases
  • Unusual/Common Words
  • Clichés
  • Redundancies
  • Homonyms
  • Readability and Statistics
  • Pacing


There’s 5 levels of membership:
FREE - you get to use the Overused Words, Repeated Phrases, and Sentence Length Variation tools. But you can only analyze five 800 word chunks of text per day.
SILVER - you get the Overused Words through the Names and Pronouns functions and you can upload 2000 word chunks, as many times as you want.
GOLD - Everything in Silver, plus Frequent Phrases, Unusual/Common Words, a Combination View of Repeated and Overused words, and Redundancy. With this one, you can upload 5000 words at a time, all day long.
PLATINUM - You get all the tools and can upload 8000 word chunks to your little heart’s content.
PROFESSIONAL - All the tools and you can upload the whole dang manuscript at once. Okay, most manuscripts. It has a 100K limit, which means mine’s out.

So what do I think of it so far? Pretty cool. I went ahead and plunked down the big bucks for the Platinum program because I wanted to use the Pacing function. So far, that function hasn’t done me any good. I don’t know if it’s not catching things or if I’m just a dang good writer when it comes to Pacing (I’d like to think so *G*). When my subscription is up, I may downgrade to the Gold program.

Cons:
Other than the Pacing issue I mentioned above, the only drawback I’ve found so far is it will only run one analysis at a time. In other words, you can only select a single error or weakness you want it to evaluate for each time. For example, you run it once for Overused Words and save that report. Then you can run it again for Clichés and save that report, and so on. It won’t do all the evaluations at once. Well, sort of. (There’s this thing called the Combination View and I’ll tell you all about that in the Pro section.) Now this may not really be such a bad thing. If it ran all the functions at once, the report would probably be a mindboggling mess and you’d quit writing on the spot.

Pros:
The Combination View. Boy, I’m loving that. It shows Overused Words in red, Repeated Phrases in green italic and Repeated Words in Blue all in the same report. That was a real eye-opener for me. In one chapter I used “it/there” 129 times and “was/were” 102 times. Ouch. Gotta fix that. And the last time I ran it, it also showed weak/weasel words in a different font. Don’t know if that’s a new function or if it was just a fluke, but I like it!

All in all, I think this is a very helpful tool for any writer. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should (especially since there’s a free version). And no, they aren’t paying me to write nice things about them. Darn.

3 comments:

  1. That is a GREAT tool! Tell us how much it's helping you cut?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lori,
    They say when you cut, you make the remaining words more powerful. Good luck with your revisions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lori,

    Thanks for your post. I just learned about the tool, but haven't yet decided to subscribe. Your post was useful.

    Best, Kyra

    ReplyDelete

 
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