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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A Fresh Look at an Old Idea: Klark


I’m taking a break tonight from my usual writing to work on something else that has been nagging at me ever since I got inspired to write up a scratch treatment of a character of mine called Klark, who dates back to friggin’ high school. Whoa! Just like me, Klark is older and a touch wiser now, and I think I finally have a solid idea of how to build a story (series, actually) and entire neo-futuristic world around him. Old ideas never die, apparently.

I read somewhere that for this to be a bona fide author site, I need to throw down some sample writing. I am loath to put up any actual WIP, so just for you, dear readers, I created a sample page that may or may not ever get used in Klark: Volume One. Enjoy!

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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.