So you’ve finally completed the manuscript you’ve been struggling with for months. Now all you need is help with proofreading and editing to get it fine tuned and polished. As luck would have it, there’s an intriguing online tool available that purports to help writers with editorial feedback similar to what you’re likely to get from a critiquing partner or group.
It’s called AutoCrit and it’s the brainchild of Nina Davies, a writer and computational linguist from Australia. Using her background as a computational linguist (someone who combines linguistics and artificial intelligence applications to make computers understand and process human languages) Davies created the AutoCrit Editing Wizard, an instant book editor that shows you the problems in your manuscript with the click of a mouse.
AutoCrit identifies weaknesses such as repetitive words and phrases, redundancies, clichés, dialogue tags, slow pacing, lack of variation in sentence structure and highlights homonyms – routine mistakes typical of early drafts. It doesn’t suggest how to solve those problems. “The reason for this is that there are many different solutions and only you know what is best for your story,” the website explains.
Instead, Autocrit offers guidelines, leaving it up to the user to decide how to fix the flaws
Although it was intended primarily for fiction writers, Autocrit is reportedly also useful for other forms of writing, including articles and proposals.
To use it, you simply go to the web site, paste your text into the editing box and click “Analyze My Text.” It returns a report in seconds. There’s nothing to download or install. And since it’s web-based, you can use it anytime and anywhere.
You can sign up as a guest for a free subscription which limits you to 500 words. Alternatively you can opt for an annual membership of $47 or the platinum package of $117. Members can submit from 1,000 -100,000 words at a time, depending on the membership level chosen. Guests can only submit 3 times per day. Members can submit as many times as they wish.
Autocrit makes no claims to helping users identify plotting or characterization issues, or other shortcomings that are more intricate such as lack of emotional depth or the failure to “show” rather than “tell”. It can’t help with punctuation either. Whether or not it’s suitable for writers in general or primarily for beginners, it’s up to individual users to decide, bearing in mind you can sign up for a free trial, albeit it allows you to analyze just 500-words at a time.
The site also features a Writing Advice Centre, offering users a free resource of articles on various aspects of fiction writing. They’re written by published authors and subject-matter experts.
To date, Autocrit has garnered mostly positive reviews from users. It has been chosen as one of the Writer’s Digest 101 best Websites for Writers.
In a guest post on writer, Lucy Monroe’s blog, Autocrit founder Nina Davies explained her motivation for creating the site.
“The trouble with self-editing is that it is easy to miss problems. You read what you think is on the page, not what is actually there. Also, when you read your manuscript, you might realize that something is wrong, but not be able to identify the source of the problem. The Wizard solves these issues by showing you exactly where the problems are. With the wizard, you not only edit better, you edit faster, too. I wrote the Wizard in my spare time. What can I say, I’m a geek at heart. I’m also a computational linguist. (That’s someone who writes programs to help computers understand human languages). So I took what I knew about analyzing language and applied it to the problem of editing.”
She added: “I had fun writing the Wizard and I was really surprised (and pleased) when I discovered that other writers liked the Wizard, too. In fact, I was thrilled when Writer’s Digest gave it their seal of approval by naming it as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers.”
Davies is so confident she’s giving users value for money, Autocrit offers a 100% money-back guarantee within 30 days on paid memberships. She also gives writing advice on Twitter at @EditingWizard