Sunday, January 20, 2008

Guest Blogger - Nina Davies

Hi, I’m Nina Davies -- reader, author and founder of the website -- an editing website for writers.

Lucy asked me to blog about AutoCrit, so here’s the scoop on this cool tool in Q&A form.

Q. What is AutoCrit?

AutoCrit is the home of the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. The Wizard is a unique tool that provides extensive feedback to help writers improve their first (or second or third) draft.

The Wizard automatically analyzes your writing and identifies weaknesses such as repeated words, excessive adverbs, slow pacing, etc, etc. In all, the Wizard provides over a dozen different reports on the manuscript.

Q. Why do writers need this?

Have you ever tried to edit your own writing? (Hopefully all writers will answer YES to this question!)

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.

Q. Where did the Wizard come from?

I wrote the Wizard in my spare time. What can I say, I’m a geek at heart J

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.

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.

Q. What else is at AutoCrit?

AutoCrit is also the home of the AutoCrit Writing Advice Center, a free library of articles on all aspects of writing fiction. The articles are written by published authors, including the lovely and talented Lucy Monroe!

It’s a great resource for writers of all levels. I know I’m a constant visitor to the library when I have a writing question.

Q. Are there any prizes today?

From reading Lucy’s blog, I know you guys like prizes J I wouldn’t want to disappoint you, so I’m going to offer a free Platinum membership to the AutoCrit Editing Wizard to a lucky reader.
To be eligible, you need to bare your soul and tell me: What’s the weakest link in your writing? What do you wish you could do better?

My weak link is character development. I find it easy to think of plots, but hard to find the characters to go in that plot.

‘Fess up. What’s your weakest link? I’ll choose a winner at random from those who enter.

Thanks for letting me visit today. It’s been a pleasure!


Amy said...

Hi Nina, Great blog. The program sounds like it would be alot of help to writers/authors. It is a great prize but since all I do is chat online please don't enter me in the drawing.
To answer your question, when I am chatting/writing online I sometimes forget what I am saying. My mind just goes blank.

tara said...

OK**this is so awful to say but my weakness is **WORDS** ** words that grip the reader and pull them into the story**. I have mountains of ideas and characters but when I sit down to write I feel like I am just telling a story and not letting the reader live the story. I am a newbie writer but it is a dream that I am not willing to give up on.

Thank you Lucy for having Nina blog! And Nina Thank you for giving us an insight into AutoCrit and writing it! WOW** I am blown away!!

Laurie B said...

Well I hate to admit it but my weakest part is probably my beginning. I know who my characters are and what they want I just sometimes have a difficult time getting them off and running the way I want to. When I see them in my head I know how I want it to look I just have some difficulty starting in a way that truly grabs hold of the reader and makes them desperate to keep reading.

JerryR said...

Hi Nina,

I have more than one writing weakness. They range from character development, creating the story middle, and not knowing where to slow down in a fast pace MS, oh, and on character internal thoughts, how much to add and not to add. There might be other weakness,but I'm sure what I listed are sufficient.

And thanks for having this prize thing.


Mim said...

Nina, Great Blog and great prize! My biggest weakness in my writing?? I think it would be (now remember, we are listing the biggest, but by no means, the only problem!) the trouble I have putting the feeling I feel in my soul for these stories down on paper, fully expressing the range of emotions I picture going on. (Oh, but wouldn't it be easier if the reader could read my mind?)

Stacy~ said...

Very cool site. I'm a reader so please don't enter me in the contest when it could benefit someone else more.

Lavada Dee said...

Hi Nina,
I just took a look a AutoCrit and it certainly sounds like a great tool to have. One and the key word here is 'one', is the sagging middle. I have no problem writing the first 3rd to half the story then fizzle out. Needless to say I have numerous wip.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and Lucy Thank you.

Brandy said...

Hi Nina! It sounds as though you have come up with a brilliant program! I am not a writer, but I bet those that are appreciate the work you've done to help them. Thanks for blogging and giving an insight into the writing world.

JT Schultz said...

Wow, this is a great looking program. Thank you Nina for taking the time to blog and for offering up a prize.

I would definitely use something like this. Personally, for me its repetitive phrases. Sometimes they are easy to pick up and fix, other times not so much.

Margay Leah Justice said...

Judging from some feedback I've received from others, I would say that description is probably my main weakness. Knowing how to create the perfect blend of detail, to weave in character description with settings and backstory is where I need help.

Carol Burge said...

I'd have to say my weakness is characterization. I have a lots of writers books to help with this, but I still need help!

Jennifer L Hart said...

Hi Nina,
You took the words right out of my mouth with the bit about what we think is on the page. I believe that when you know your story well enough, you read for meaning more often than content.

My biggest weakness is spelling. Always has been. My grandfather use to sit with me at the counter and drill me for hours saying "Sound it out, Jennifer!" I try ,but with a New York accent, words don't always spell the way I think they should!

I also mix up my thans and thens when I'm writing in the zone and also my your and you're and it's and its. I always have to do a search for these words because I don't always think about the meaning while crafting the story.

Chantal said...

Wow! That is so neat! I can't imagine all the time and work it took to put that together.

Patti Shenberger said...

Hi Nina, what a great idea the Auto Crit! My biggest challenge and weakest part is the ability to keep moving forward. I get bogged down with info dumps and developing my characters and in the process lose the forward momentum I need. I go every direction but forward! Thanks for talking to us today!

Patti Shenberger

Linda said...

Not that it's my weakness but I get annoyed when authors use the preposition into instead of in to when appropriate. And lately some authors are using but nor. Does AutoCrit catch these errors as well as the common problems of to, too, two?

Serena said...

Hi Nina,
Oh this sounds fabulous! A writer's dream come true :)

I am an *organic* writer AKA a *pantser* (as in: fly by the seat of my pants) and what I find can happen is I get to a spot where I just don't know what happens next. Blank. Zilcho. Sometimes I can get over it by writing what happens after what happens next LOL but it's a pain at times.

Hugs to Lucy too! (Serena waves from Down Udner)

Serena, Melbourne, Australia

Serena said...

Hmm, that should have read:

Serena waves from Down UNDER!

NinaD said...

Hi everyone, it's fabulous to read your comments.

Aren't writers great? They are so quick to point out their weaknesses!! (Me, too!)

I should also have asked for your STRENGTH as a writer. There's always a kernel of brilliance in everything we write -- we just need to learn to see it so we stop beating ourselves up about everything that's wrong :-)

My motto is: there should be a lot of problems in a first draft -- otherwise it's not a first draft!

Enjoy your day! I'll post more tomorrow and choose a winner in another day or so.
P.S. Thanks so much for your kind words about AutoCrit. It's like a baby to me, so I'm feeling like a proud mama :-)

Stacia said...

Wow! Autocrit sounds like an amazing program. Definitely something I'd like to check out. I'm a newbie writer with just one published short story under my belt. I would have to say that my biggest weaknesses in writing are getting away from crutch words such as like & as and making "boring" parts of my writing more gripping. I get to a place in the story that just kind of stalls & have a hard time figuring out what exactly is making it stall.

Denysé Bridger said...

Hi, Nina!

This sounds like a fascinating writing tool, it really does. I applaud your technical skill in making it a reality that works.

My biggest weakness is shifting character POV, or head-hopping. I'm getting better, but wow... I like to see things like the director of a movie, so everyone has a thought to add or a comment, or an observation... I think I drive myself mad some days....

VERY interesting post, really.

Hi, Lucy!! HUGS....


NinaD said...


Hi all, I chose two winners instead of one :-)

The first winner is JT Shultz. And I just had to encourage newbie writer Stacia. Both of you win a Platinum membership to AutoCrit.

The two of you can contact me via the website and I'll set you up.

Thanks for participating everyone and have a great day!

Unknown said...

Yay JT and Stacia!

This is fabulous, I'm running right over to check it out. :)