Can a computer analysis of your text help you write better? I gave AutoCrit a spin and became a customer.
It is often difficult to see mistakes in your own manuscript, but overused adverbs, repeated words, passive writing, too much introspection, and other patterns can be easily recognized by a computer. Author, Nina Davies used her background as a computational linguist (someone who works to make computers understand human languages) to develop the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. The wizard automatically finds and highlights potential problems in your text.
According to the AutoCrit site:
AutoCrit is a tool to help you identify weaknesses in your fiction writing. AutoCrit can help you identify:
Words that weaken your writing, such as too many occurrences of “that” or “it” or LY-adverbs.
Repetition of similar words.
Sentences that lack variety due to similar lengths.
Overuse of dialogue tags such as “she muttered.”
AutoCrit is not a grammar checker or a spell checker. AutoCrit identifies problems that prevent the reader from your enjoying story.
Editing is one of the first hurdles you’ll encounter as an independent writer. Your fan club is your enemy. Encouraging friends who think it’s “wonderful you actually wrote a book” are not unbiased editors. A good editor will put your work under a microscope, analyze it to death and probably make you feel at times like any talent you think you have is imaginary. Good editors do encourage and offer praise for what works, but they’re relentless at tearing your writing apart and making you put it back together the right way. Editing is a grueling, time-consuming process and it’s a task that must be entrusted to someone who will give you “tough love.” We’re all too close to our own work to see the flaws and missing pieces, especially when the writing is fresh.
Poor editing is the number one complaint heard from critics of the independent publishing industry. Though the standards of mainstream publishing houses are overrated, I’ve read many indy books where spotty spelling and lack of polished prose present barriers to enjoyable reading. Moreover, our own well-crafted books get lumped into the “indy” category with this trash. Unedited authors sully the publishing waters for the rest of us.
I have discussed the idea of editing with other writers and heard the reply, “I don’t need an editor; I’m an excellent speller.” An editor is not a proofreader. Though the best of us require proofreaders, a story editor is someone who can comment on the work objectively. Is the story believable? Are there unexpected temporal jumps or unexplained threads in the narrative? Are the article’s assertions properly supported? As with affairs of the heart, it’s easy to understand the problems of others and difficult to acknowledge what we’re too close to see—and if you think writing isn’t an affair of the heart, you haven’t started your book yet. Get that third-party perspective. Continue reading →