Awesomeness of Autocrit

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, 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 This might be enough for an unpublished writer who is working at a slow and steady pace who wants access to editing help for small projects, flash fiction, or blogging.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.

Have you discovered any on-line writing tools or software that has made your job easier? I’d love for you to share them with our readers.

26 thoughts on “Awesomeness of Autocrit”

  1. Oh, wowza! I am SO ordering this software. I’d never heard of it before–Thanks! I’d be interested to hear if any of our readers have any experience with Scrivener. It intrigues me, but I wonder if it would be just one more thing to learn, taking time away from writing …

    1. I wonder the same thing, Suze. I’ve heard great things about Scrivener, but I also have ONE Note and I hardly use it. It’s a great tool, but like everything, one more tool is just that if I don’t take time to learn and use it.

    1. It’s an amazing helper. I am floored by how many times I repeat phrases in the same paragraph, or use passive voice when it would only take a small change in sentence structure to correct. I would never see that on my own. Good luck with your edits, Gerri!

  2. I thought so too, Rhonda. Since I have a 70K word manuscript and a 15K short story to edit, I signed up for the premium package, but 8,ooo words a day to submit would still be a big help. Have fun with it.

    1. You will probably be as surprised as I was to see your weaknesses laid out for you. It’s much nicer than having an editor point them out:-) The program even goes as far as to tell you “good job!” when you’ve avoided the more common mistakes.

  3. Whoa . . . what valuable information. I can’t wait to play. I am taking a college writing course recommended from my editor. Even so, before I give her anymore of my writing, I will check it out with this technology. Thank you Paula.

    And Suze, I did check out Scrivener. There is a learning curve. If you have a satisfactory system in place, why change?

    1. No problem, Patti. I can send the entire 70K manuscript and get it back in a few minutes. It took a little longer than the 15K short story because i opted in for the encryption that they offer if you want the document encrypted before sending it out over the internet. just a safety precaustion and nice that they offer it. It slows the process a little, but worth it i think. It doesn’t cost any extra.

  4. Thank you for posting about this tool. I hadn’t heard of it, and I am definitely going to use it on my next book and all others. I put in a sample from my current work and got a great report, but there were enough instances of potential changes to make me wish I’d known about it sooner. Thanks again! I love technology! The combo of tech and human eyes is the bomb!

    1. I know the 400 words aren’t much of a sample to get a real picture of where your common errors are, but give it a thousand or more and it really starts to show. But you’re right. There’s no replacing a good human editor. The combo seems like a good solution, though.

    1. I’m a little leery too. Some of it could be just overusage but some of it could be attributed to writing style.

      1. The good thing, Jamie is that they are simply suggestions or observations. If it tells me I have used the word “that” 20 times in one chapter and the recommendation is to remove about 13 of them, it is completely discretionary to the writer which ones can go. I was appaulled at the number of times I used it where it was unnecessary and read better without it. In some cases the recommendations forced me to rethink my sentences entirely and find stronger verbs and nouns rather than vague pronouns.

    1. I hear you on the commas, Casey. That’s where Suze and Carol, (my editors this go round) are worth their weight in gold. They are my eyes for punctuation, spelling, grammar, and usage tips as well as being great at finding inconsistencies and plot holes or missed opportunities to deepen character. There’s NO substitute for good editing.

    1. Ohhh, I’m glad you like it, Peter. I was wondering if it would be something that would interest you. It’s definitely a short cut to seeing patterns in our writing that need work. I’ll be interested to see how you use it.

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