PJ Sharon here on this fine Tuesday. I hope you are all well and writing up a storm. As I’m in the throes of edits and rewrites, I thought I would share an awesome new tool I found. I’ve been hearing about Autocrit for some time, but foolishly I chose to ignore the many recommendations from other writers about its virtues. Boy, have I been missing out!
Autocrit is an on-line service that provides assessment of your writing by way of software that generates a report outlining such helpful observations as overused words, sentence variation, clichés and redundancies, repeated words and phrases, pacing, dialogue, and more. Basically, all the things that a copy editor does, Autocrit does first, and quite thoroughly I might add.
If you go to their website http://www.autocrit.com, you can submit a four hundred word document (about a page or two) of your work in progress (WIP) for free, and in seconds, they will generate a report, not only telling you what overused words that appear in that section, but how many you should eliminate to meet acceptable standards. Your submission appears on the page with the offending overused words highlighted in red. You can even get a combination report showing overused words in red, repeated phrases in blue, and repeated words in green with underline.
You can try out the service for free, but if you want to use it on a regular basis, you can sign up for various levels of use. The $47/year package allows you to submit up to 1,000 words per day. This might be enough for an unpublished writer who is working at a slow and steady pace who wants access to editing help for small projects, flash fiction, or blogging. The Platinum package costs $77/year and allows you to submit up to 8,000 words/day. For serious writers who need the flexibility of having large sections edited and who want to work off-line, they offer the Professional package for $117/year. They allow for up to 100,000 words with unlimited submissions. I chose this package since I’m planning for multiple full length manuscripts and short stories over the next year. This will save me (and my editors) a lot of work on the back end. No more twenty pages of revisions to do before your work is publish ready. A worthy investment in my opinion.
The best part for me is that it showed me patterns I tend to follow and the common words and phrases that I repeat without being aware. Over time, I can see this being a great learning tool that will make me a much better writer. I hope to use it to make my job and my editor’s job that much easier, and to produce the cleanest copy possible.
Not that this word counting program could ever replace the watchful eye of a good editor, but there is no way human beings are going to be able to painstakingly weed through 70,000 words and tell me that I’ve used the words have and that twenty times each in chapter one and that I need to remove about thirteen of them. They might catch some of these infractions, but they won’t catch them all. Unless of course, they use Autocrit.