I’ve been subscribing to the AutoCrit editing software site for nearly a year and have just renewed my membership. I’m also an affiliate and will earn a commission on memberships purchased through the links in this post.
But, rather than write reams about the site, I thought I’d show you how I’ve used it. Below is a screenshot of part of my manuscript. On the left is the AutoCrit report and on the right is my revised document with my edits. The legend for the AutoCrit report is as follows:
Overused Words shown in red. (Only if over limit).
Repeated Phrases shown in blue.
Repeated words are shown in green and underlined.
And my edits in the right-hand screen are in teal.
Below the image, I’ll go through some of the edits I made following the analysis through AutoCrit.
1. Staircase and stairs: difficult words to avoid using in the first draft while I was describing the action, since I was referring to two different staircases and also needed to specify whether the characters were going up or down or coming off the stairs and going straight. But I’ve cut it from six instances to three in this passage.
2. Door/doors: again, a lot of different doors opening and closing in this passage, and not easy to cut instances of use without losing clarity. I deleted one, where “sound of creaking” satisfactorily hinted at a door doing the creaking.
3. Another: a necessary word due to what was occurring in this passage, but I managed to delete one out of two here in close proximity.
4. Unless and really: these are generally overused words, so I checked whether they were necessary in context, and, in dialogue, they do fit the way the characters would speak. Since I only had one instance of each in this passage I let them stay.
5. See: this one doesn’t bother me too much. One instance is in dialogue and the other in the narrative, and they fit (with the second instance helping to bring the narrative back to Maddie’s POV, rather than general description. Read the paragraph without “Maddie could see the balconies formed a square…”—it feels less personal).
6. Castle and maybe: these are concentrated in a section of dialogue where the two characters echo each other—so it lends to the realism of teen-speak. The third “maybe” was unintentional, though, so I’ve used “probably” instead.
7. Each: two instances in one paragraph; I’ve removed one.
8. Said: doesn’t usually bother me—it is a neutral word that most readers don’t register as a dialogue tag. But here I can use Maddie’s actions as a tag instead of “said”, which removes one instance.
9. Looked: this is listed under “see/look” etc. In this case Maddie has to look at Sophie; later, in contrast, she “turn[s] to stare at” her.
10. Turned: I wanted to keep “turned to stare”, so I’ve changed “turned the handle” to “tried the handle”, and “turned the corner” to “around the corner”.
11. Locked: a deliberate echo: the repetition stays.
So that should give you an idea of how useful AutoCrit may or may not be for you. It still requires a human brain to go through and make the decisions, and it can take some time to work through and try and find alternative phrasing and synonyms. But it’s a lot quicker than running multiple Find and Replace searches or even creating a Macro. And it’s certainly more reliable than simply scanning your manuscript yourself for repeated words, however carefully you may read. I have to note, though, that it does mess up formatting somewhat, so it’s best to use the reports for a side-by-side comparison, rather than making changes to your manuscript inside AutoCrit.
There’s very little in terms of a learning curve, but the AutoCrit website does have a demonstration video to show you how to use the site. There’s also a free “lite” option. Take a look.