Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Best thing since sliced bread.

Yesterday I stumbled upon a site: AutoCrit: Fiction Editing Software. Man, what a tool. You take a chunk of your writing (up to 8,000 words if you buy their platinum membership) and paste it into their site. Then using an algorithm they developed based on published fiction, the tool shows you where your writing is weak. Things like: Overused Words, Repeated Phrases, Cliché Finder, etc...

The first time through, chapter one was pretty bloody. I cannot believe how often I used "ly" adverbs. I hate ly adverbs, I worked very hard to never use ly adverbs. It found 58! With a ratio of 1.7%. They claimed this is 1% more than I should have.

Now, I must warn you, it doesn't fix the problems, it just points them out. So I spent several hours going through and editing. As I worked on it, I discovered they were right. The writing became much stronger addressing the problem areas. Now as I run chapter one through AutoCrit, all the red, weak words are gone. I've fallen to a mere .4% ly adverbs. It has much more punch to it. And I didn't have to pay $2,000 for a professional editor.

6 comments:

Crosspoint said...

Besides other benefits, it's hard to get mad at an algorhythmn (or however you spell that). No human reader is totally unbiased and it's easy to dismiss critique based on the agenda of the reviewer. But this really sounds like the computer doesn't care who you are or one whit about your feelings.

D. Robert Pease said...

Great point. You don't get mad at it because it is just a computer. Of course it has no idea what makes a good story, or what makes compelling sentences, it just knows how to tell you you've used the word "was" 487 times when good writers only use it 3. (good writers in the original programmer's estimation.)

astairesteps said...

How much did you pay?

D. Robert Pease said...

How much did I pay for AutoCrit? After I tried out their demo I went for the platinum version. At $39.95/year, I thought it was well worth it.

ORION said...

I think this is interesting. Some of these things even a beta reader has trouble picking up and you are right -- it is hard to grab a program by the neck and slam it up against a wall if you don't...
er
uh
not that I've done that with my beta readers but, well it IS tempting...

D. Robert Pease said...

Orion (aka Patricia Wood) I just bounced over to your website. Wow! Congratulations. Every author dreams of the day when they hold their book in their hands for the first time. What a day for you today!

This is one of the ways that the Internet just blows me away. I didn't know anything about you until minutes ago, and now I feel like I'm part of one of the most exciting days in your life. Thanks for letting me join you in the celebration.