Paula loves the Autocrit editing website!
No one is paying me to say
this, so you can believe me when I say that Autocrit Wizard is by far the best
editing programme I have found online. I first joined about three years ago, and
to start with, paid the minimum subscription which allowed me to upload 1,000
words at a time for analysis. I found it so useful that I upgraded to the
‘platinum’ subscription which meant I could upload a complete chapter at a
time. Last year, just before the site was revamped, I was offered a life
membership to the ‘professional’ package at a very good price i.e. they made me
an offer I couldn’t refuse!
The programme analyses your
writing under various headings e.g. Pacing and Momentum, Dialogue, Strong
Writing, Word Choice, and Repetition. Some of these are more useful than others.
The Dialogue section
highlights dialogue tags and adverbs in dialogue (meaning adverbs tagged on to
‘he said’ etc). On the whole I’ve weaned myself away from synonyms for ‘said’,
and tend to use actions if I need to show which character is speaking, but
after looking at the Autocrit analysis, I can spot the places where I need to
remove a dialogue tag and/or rephrase something.
‘Strong Writing’ includes
adverbs generally – and I’ve realised how many times my characters say
‘probably’! It also highlights clichés, although I would argue that some of the
words it highlights are not what I would call clichés e.g. in my latest
chapter, it highlighted ‘in the main’ which I accept could be called a cliché,
but I was using it in the phrase ‘in the main street’ which is different!
Unnecessary filler words are also highlighted – the dreaded ‘that’, ‘then’, and
‘just’, amongst others.
Word Choice includes generic
terms like ‘very’, ‘really’, ‘nice’ etc. I must admit I do keep some of these
in dialogue, because it’s often how people talk, but I try to keep them to a
minimum. I’ve realised I use ‘He (or she) looked’ too often. I tend to
alternate between ‘looked’ and ‘glanced’ – but I know I need to find some
better words! And I won’t admit to the number of times I use ‘maybe’–ouch!
Probably the most useful
section (to me, anyway) is the Repetition section – repeated words and phrases.
These are shown in different ways i.e. when the same word or phrase has been
used twice or more within four or five lines, and also how many times a word or
phrase appears in a chapter. I never realised before how often my characters
smile, grin, or nod!
Another section allows me to
list the words I already know I use too much i.e. ones which might not be
picked up in the analysis. Although I’m aware of these, they still manage to
creep into my manuscript.
It probably takes me two or
three hours, sometimes more, to go through each chapter, but it is time well
spent. After I’ve done all the corrections, deletions, rephrasing etc, I know I
have a more tightly written chapter – and I know what to watch out for in the
future, so it’s a good learning curve.
Having said all this,
Autocrit only looks at the ‘technical’ aspects of writing. For advice about the
plot and characters, and suggestions to improve the storyline, I continue to
rely on my much valued critique partners.