Tool Tryout: Autocrit

I believe I mentioned recently that I am making a point of studying, since I am not querying literary agents anymore. (Note: As of this writing I have two active queries remaining.)  One resource that has proven invaluable to me is Jane Friedman’s web site, which is loaded with all sorts of information pertaining to writing and publishing. It was by poring over her blog archive that I got wind of a tool called AutoCrit, which uses whiz-bang AI to review your fiction manuscript, or whatever else you plug into it (but mostly fiction), and determine how well your writing rates on a variety of factors. Full disclosure, I tried it out yesterday and am not in any way affiliated with any of the sites named above except as a casual but interested observer.

I plugged my publicly-available writing sample into the AutoCrit trial application and let it work its algorithmic magic.

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From A to B

As told in my previous post, what was once Klark: Volume One is now (tentatively, yet probably) Crossed Out: The Ana Lode Series #1. Wait, what? How did I go from “this is a series about a masked vigilante named Klark” to “this is a series about a badass rogue cop with masked vigilante flavoring added”?

I studied, and made adjustments. Simple as that. The long-winded explanation follows.

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Thanks, Brain!

Tying in to my earlier post about letting your brain wrestle with vexing problems so you don’t (actively) have to, I took some time last night to tweak the prologue to The Spaces Between Us, which is a good news/bad news situation.

The good news: The manuscript is clearer and tighter. In short, my methodology for setting up the scene came off as though I had dropped in placeholders and never got around to giving anybody actual names. This is a legitimate technique, when used wisely, however there was too much runway. Some clever edits shortened the runway.

The bad news: I fully expect all of my active queries to be rejected. Left in a vacuum of no constructive feedback, I am deducing that since most agents ask for the first 5-10 pages, and the prologue is 10 pages on the nose, they’re most likely turned off by the appearance of lazy writing even though the “placeholder” effect was phased out by the end of the chapter. I’m betting they’re not drawing that distinction and frankly, it’s easier to say no than to split hairs over intent.

I could be wrong, of course.

I’m really down on myself for not catching that sooner, however that’s the down side of being close to the material. I was sure that I had this polished down to being radio-ready, to use a music term, but sadly I could have done better. I said up front that I would most likely make mistakes. Too true!

Counting my blessings, I’m glad that a) I paused querying to regroup, and therefore there aren’t many pending to summarily reject and b) I caught a key problem before it ruined my career, at least for this book. I’d be more ripped up if this was all I had in my WIP pile.

Onward…

 

The Illusion of Preparedness

I officially rescind all of my crabbing and complaining about not receiving any bites from any literary agents thus far (holding at 7 rejections as of this writing). Not just because of, you know, karma, but because my nifty e-reader editing technique revealed serious flaws in my seventh (!!!) and I thought final draft. Seventh!

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Book Update: Query Letters A Go-Go

As told in my last update, work has begun on my literary agent query letter. To that end, I am poring over the vast archives at the Query Shark blog, which has helped immensely. I found out quickly that my first stab at writing a query letter was piss poor. Actually, I think it aspired to be piss poor.

Thus: I have a few pieces of homework this month:

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Sketchbook: RFA Lesson Four Homework

I finally made time to play catch up with the ongoing beginner drawing tutorials at Rapid Fire Art. I left off at Lesson Four: Proportions.

There were four homework sketches for this lesson. I posted one here earlier. Here are the other three.

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Sketchbook: Gracie

I’m taking a break from the book for a few days to let some ideas settle. While that sits and stews, I got in some art work on Wednesday:

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This is very much the rough cut, kind of like the state the book is in right now. This reminds me of a police artist sketch where it’s not an exact likeness, but in the ball park. Meet Gracie.

Of the bunch, Gracie for me is the most fun to write. She’s in her early 20’s (21, I think) and trying to sort out what to do with her life. She’s bold and opinionated, but learning that having all of the answers aren’t the same thing as having all of the solutions.

I tried to sketch up the hair cut she gets during the story, but I really didn’t get there. It’s supposed to be a fade on her right side with a pixie cut on the left, more or less. I’m not that hip to women’s hair styles.

Gracie is the polar opposite of her middle sister Agnes. I had fun writing scenes with the two of them, as they really challenged me: I want the characters to be recognizably different from one another, just by dialogue alone. The things they wear and other affectations are window dressing. I believe I have succeeded, just in the rough draft.

I’ll tighten up the draft soon and work more fictional magic, but anyway, it was fun to visualize my favorite character and get some sketching in.

RFA Lesson 4 is Up: Proportions

I see how it is: I get wrapped up in writing a book, and Rapid Fire Art does 2 tutorials inside of a week. Today’s lesson: Proportions!

Before I get into that, I want it to be known that I finally made time to derp around with my sketchbook, and as per Lesson 3, I was in fact trying to do 3D.

/tosses that lesson over my shoulder

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Book Note: The Featureless Plane

Yeah yeah, writing a book, going well, lots done, lots to come, you’re up to speed.

In related news:

I was thinking about the process of writing, which is to say, thinking about appropriate amounts of detail, specifically from the perspective as a fledgling author.

My rough draft is rough indeed, with the intent of getting to the end of the book (if not the story) and then going back over it and not only cleaning it up (editing) but fleshing out some of the bare bones details.

Let’s go to the board, and I’ll show *and* tell my thoughts on detail.

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