Writer’s Review: AutoCrit

When in search of great writing software, I happened across AutoCrit during NaNoWriMo 2018. This website was running a contest that offered three months free membership to any NaNoWriMo contestant that signed up for their newsletter. While I didn’t win, an opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership for a reasonable price popped up unexpectedly. I snapped it up, and today, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about this revision software.

First Things First, what does AutoCrit do?

AutoCrit is an editing software that helps to edit your novel in a multitude of ways. Through its unique analysis process, you can instantly get editing suggestions about everything from word choice, to active vs. passive words, and even pacing. It takes into account all of the most popular books of a particular genre and their writing styles and uses those to evaluate where your story falls stylistically within that genre. You can even compare your book directly to the writing style of a particular author. For fantasy, I know J.K Rowling is an option as well as Sarah J. Maas, my favorite author of all time. The suggestions that AutoCrit churns out are really genre-specific, something that I don’t think any other editing software can give.

Best Features

Pacing and Momentum Report – I love this one immensely because of how accurate it is. You can see very clearly where your slow paragraphs are in your story, and you can see whether you’re actively moving the story along with what you’re writing.

Adverbs Report: Do you feel like you’re using too many adverbs in your writing? If yes, this is going to change your life. It shows you graphs of your most frequently used adverbs and how many per chapter. The software also shows you if your use of adverbs is average or above average or below average for your genre. It’s a really great indicator of where your writing stands in its current state. It will even show you the exact number to get rid f to make it fall into traditional bestseller standards.

If you don’t think you’re using too many adverbs…. trust me. You are.

Clich̩s Report РAre you worried that your book may contain too many clich̩ phrases? AutoCrit will weed them out for you and mark where they are in your story. Super useful for a second and third draft.

When should I use this?

I used AutoCrit primarily for my third and fourth drafts after I had gotten feedback from a few beta readers. While I was implementing their suggestions, I began to focus on word choice more heavily than I had in the past edits. AutoCrit was the best tool for identifying the weaknesses in my writing that I, myself, as a new writer was unfamiliar with what to even look for. It pointed out clear successes and clear failures that I could then adjust to until it was where I wanted it to be.

This software does not edit for you. Every change you want to make, you make yourself. It does not implement anything for you. What it does is point out specific areas for you to improve on and make specific suggestions to improve your writing. I couldn’t be happier with it.

Pricing

The plan that I personally use and would recommend is the Professional Plan. This grants you unlimited word count and access to all of the features I mentioned above, plus a lot more. This is the plan that’s going to best suit the author. Going with the basic plan leaves you only working with 1000 words at a time (which could not work). Going with the elite offers you weekly lessons, tips and tricks from industry professionals, and marketing help once you publish. But until you’re ready for that stage or you really want some more professional assistance, I would suggest the Professional Plan. It currently runs for $30 per month. But AutoCrit is often running discounts, so be on the lookout.

As always, happy writing!

The Revision Process

The revision process, for me, was actually more fun to me than writing your first draft.

Now hear me out.

During your first draft, it’s all chaos. You’re writing to get the story on the page. Of course your work is creative and a beautiful story, but it is in its rawest form. It’s at the worst it’s ever gonna be. So, the revision process allows you to truly create, to embellish and to detail every element of your novel. From the plot, to the characters, and the world, not a single detail remains untouched.

Everyone revises differently. Some people like to do three drafts; some want to do at least six. I couldn’t find a lot of really solid information out there about how to revise most effectively. Until I found this guide. I would highly reccomend most of the materials on this website. Writers Edit walks through a lot of writing concepts and practices similarly to what I do. This guide got me through the revision process. My article today is going to take it down to its bare bones and some of the modifications that I made to it to fit me best. Read their article if you’re looking for more in depth details.

Distance

Your first job as a writer is to separate yourself from your work for a period of time. This allows you to approach the work from a fresh perspective. Many sources reccomend a month to six weeks; if you’re an eager writer like me, I managed to make it two and a half weeks before jumping in. And that worked well for me. Make sure you give at least two weeks at the bare minimum. Trust me. It really helps.

First Readthrough

Sit down with your first draft and read it in its entirety. It’s best to do this in one sitting if you can, but never more than two. You want to see the novel’s arc and how events fit together, and it can be hard to do that if your reading is too fragmented. While you’re reading, take notes on each scene or chapter. Make notes about what each section is about, the characters that play a major role, and what the main goal of that scene or chapter is. Also note any changes that you’d like to make. Focus on major or medium-sized changes, but if you see something small that will bug you if it’s not fixed, write that down too.

When you finish reading, analyze the notes you’ve made about each scene. Do some seem out of place? Could some be rearranged or even eliminated entirely?

Second Draft

Take the time to make all of the changes that you want to make. Go down your list. Personally, I like to work chronologically starting from the first chapter through to the end. Your second draft should take you a decent amount of time to finish. Take your time to get the core elements right. Your draft should absolutely transform.

Beta Reader #1

Once your second draft is finished, I would reccomend sending your draft to a first beta reader. Pick someone that you can trust with your work, whether that’s someone you know personally or someone you meet through a writing group or the Twitter #WritingCommunity. A note: if you pick someone close to you, make sure they have the guts to give you real harsh criticism. Beta readers need to give you honest feedback, and family and friends can sometimes sugarcoat the truth in order not to hurt your feelings. Remember, criticism only gives you the opportunity to grow. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend is one of those people who gives honest criticism and feedback. I couldn’t have been happier for him to be the first person to see my work.

Also, set a time limit in which to have it back to you. Two weeks is usually a good time frame. Also be prepared to be flexible if needed.

Third Draft

The third draft is the best time to make edits that your beta reader has suggested as well as to hone in on the details. If your beta reader suggests major changes, insert another draft before this one where you focus on making those edits. Sometimes separating major from minor helps writers to focus on what matters most in their own time. If most of their suggestions are medium to minor sized changes, all you need is this third draft. While you’re at it, think about bringing out key moments in the story to the forefront, particularly in your worldbuilding. If details that you’ve created have gotten lost in the shuffle, add them back into your story. If a character is missing a key trait, incorporate it back in. This is another chance to enhance and embellish. Don’t waste it.

Second Readthrough

Read through your new draft a second time, making notes similar to your first readthrough.  A lot may have changed, so don’t half-ass it.

Fourth Draft

Make the changes you thought of in your second readthrough. Very simple.

Beta Reader #2 (Or maybe even #3)

Time to hand over your work to a second beta reader. My suggestion is to pick someone who has an entirely different reading or editing style than your previous beta reader. Branch out within your genre’s readers. You want to make sure your book appeals to a wide range of people. That’s why I would also reccomend even selecting a third beta reader to read simultaneously.

Fifth Draft

Make the changes your beta reader or readers suggested.

Final Readthrough/Grammar Check

Make one final readthrough on your computer. You can make any small changes that you want to regarding word choice and grammar as you read along. Consider having a grammar editor running as you do so you can catch mistakes easier. BUT DO NOT RELY ON IT FULLY. It does not catch everything, as I discovered. Force yourself to go slowly and steadily, reading every word and every comma and period. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself when you’re submitting to literary agents.

And there you have it! You’ve made it through the full revision process. Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back and get to querying!

Third Draft Complete!

I am incredibly excited to announce that the third draft of Chasing Fae is finally finished!

I’ve had a decent amount of time on my hands after working at my internship during the daytime. I’ve had many an afternoon and evening to concentrate on making this book the best that it possibly can be. Major structural changes have been made that I believe really transform the reader’s experience in the world of the Three Realms. From character arc clarification, to new plot points, and a renewed sense of urgency in the storyline, the changes I have made make me very proud to be a writer.

I tried a new technique this time of working with two drafts side by side. I started an entirely new document for draft three and wrote alongside draft two, making large changes or copying and pasting between drafts. I felt like this really allowed me to watch the writing expand and shift directions. I could really see the movement of the story much better than any other revision technique I’ve used thus far. With a very clear to-do list in hand, I wrote and rewrote and wrote anew. The novel length increased by over eight thousand words. This puts it in a fantastic range for YA fantasy without going too far.

There’s nothing more invigorating than seeing your hard work finally come together on the page.

So what happens now?

I’ve sent off my book to three new beta readers who I’ve met through various #WritingCommunity projects. I’m going to give two of them a quick shoutout here since I know them well enough to do so: my wonderful friend, Hill T. Manner over at steamblogger.com (who I’m now collaborating with in admin on his site!) and the fantastic CJ Landry who I collaborate with over at All in the Pantheon. (She’s also just released a new poetry book, which I’m going to link here.) I’m super grateful to all of them for taking this on for me. I’m really excited to hear their feedback.

While I’m waiting to hear from them, I have a variety of tasks on my author to-do list! I’m going to spend some time working on the website to build up more of a following. (So if you’ve got some friends who you know would love this site, please send them a link!) I’m going to focus on Aphrodite’s storyline over at All in the Pantheon and make some decisions about who I want her to be. Finally, I’m going to work heavily on my query letter and my synopsis to make sure that those will be ready for querying this fall.

The writing never stops! But that’s what we love about it, isn’t it? We never have to stop.

Thank you for your constant support, everyone. Much love. <3

Going Back to the Beginning: A Lesson in Revisions

Hey everybody! On Monday, I finished up my last exam and my last paper, and I am officially finished with my freshman year! I can’t believe this year has gone by so fast. It feels like just a few weeks ago, I was moving into my freshman dorm, and now I’m trying to move out! I swear moving in was a lot easier.

My thoughts are a little jumbled right now due to me being a little under the weather. But I wanted to make sure I put out something solid for you all to read. So, I want to talk a little more in detail about the work I’ve been doing over the last couple weeks on the novel.

Revisions

At the advice of a very handy revision guide (linked here for reference; I will most likely do an article on this later), I decided to break down my novel into chapter summaries. Basically for each chapter, I made notes about which characters were featured, where the scene takes place, and the important plot points. This serves as a really great tool to understand everything that is going on in the book without rereading the whole thing every time you want to make changes. Note: You should still frequently read the whole book when you do make changes; but right off the bat, I’ve found this to be a good first step.

After this, the revision guide provided me with a multitude of questions to identify the main structural edits that my book desperately needs. I really loved working through them. They gave me the best information I needed to identify what needed to be done. Sometimes it’s very hard to formulate these questions on my own without any direction. With these, I made a list of about 25 major/moderate structural changes that needed to be made.

25 seems like a lot to me. The guide recommended listing 20 for your first pass, but I’ve never been able to do anything with limitations xD. Now, once the list is made, the guide recommends to go ahead and start revising. But… I felt like I really wasn’t prepared to do that yet. Two of my biggest fixes were as follows: make character development bigger and much clearer and incorporate more worldbuilding throughout. I didn’t feel like I had all the tools necessary to revise in the best way.

So I went all the way back to the beginning. Back to my ten months worth of research and notes from before I wrote this novel in November. I hadn’t visited them in great detail in a decent amount of time, so it was long overdue. I worked with the character interview questionnaire alongside my character profiles so I could work with both my basic original ideas and have inspiration to build off of them.

I focused on Grace and Aiden for now as they are the most prevalent in the novel. I plan on working with other characters as I revise as they pop up in the story. Grace has become a fuller character: retaining her stubborn and passionate nature while mixing in a few more character flaws, fears, and somewhat of a softer heart underneath. Aiden has completely reverted back to my original intention for the character that did not come across at all in the current draft. He plays a little more fast and loose and is driven by a strong desire for adventure. His regrets in his life will hopefully come more into play as well as he develops.

What Happens Now?

Now that I’m finished with character development for the time being, I plan on working a bit with each of the locations. As much as I talk about worldbuilding, I need to revisit mine and create more descriptive details that can be readily incorporated when I need them. Especially in the Middle Realm: that area has not been as planned out as I would like.

So because of all this, my timeline has shifted significantly. I plan on spending the entire summer in revisions. A second beta read will be pushed to either late July or August, depending on how efficiently I revise once I’m ready. I won’t be querying until potentially September or October. As much as I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to start looking for literary agents this summer, it is more important that the book is in its best possible condition before being judged. I believe it will make the process go quicker at the end of the day. I want my novel to be strong. So I will put in the time.

How To Turn A First Draft Into A Second Draft

Hey guys! Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy on this fine Saturday. I’ve been up for hours volunteering at the local farmer’s market and finishing up some homework. I’m really looking forward to writing today; I’m on my second round of revisions moving towards a third completed draft.

So today, I want to talk about how to take the first draft of your novel and turn it into a second draft. Since I’ve just recently finished this process, I thought it would be a good idea to show you some of the steps of moving forward with your story. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to more first drafting and researching processes again!

The Second Draft: The Creation Stage

I read in an article somewhere, though I can’t remember which one right now, that the first draft is to get everything down on paper and the second draft is to make the story look like you knew what you were doing all along. I think that this is a very powerful and very useful way to approach drafting, especially in the early stages. Your second draft is a great time to fix all of those places, large and small, where you knew what you wanted to happen, but didn’t know what to say. This is where your story is really going to come to life.

Step Zero: Take Time Away.

Before you can even think about touching your first draft again, you have to put it away. The minimum time recommended is two weeks. Many authors like to have at least a month away from a draft before they come back. Others say it’s fine to come back whenever you start itching to write again. Regardless of your timeframe, time away from your novel will allow you to look at it with fresh eyes and catch mistakes much more comprehensively. Personally, I put mine aside for two weeks and distracted myself with Christmastime and spending time with family.

Step One: The Readthrough

The first step is to confront your first draft with a reader’s eyes. For this step, you’ll need a pen, a highlighter, your draft, and a comfy place to sit. Once you’ve settled in, it’s time to read! Read your entire draft start to finish with as little interruptions as possible. It helps if you’re a fast reader. If you read slowly, try to finish the book in as little time as possible. Don’t leave long gaps in between readings (i.e. a full day or more).

As you read, take notes. This isn’t really a place to fix typos, though if you’re a nitpicky reviser, it’s okay to make note of them. Mainly, you’re going to be focusing on big and small changes. Larger ones include items like a whole chapter needing to be reworked or you may find you need a whole new chapter! Smaller ones can be word choice, phrasing, or a new passage that would improve description or worldbuilding. Any and all questions you have about your own work or new ideas you want to incorporate should be noted down.

Leave no stone unturned. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. If it doesn’t work, even if you love it, get rid of it.

Step Two: The Revision Phase

Once you’ve read through your draft and made all the notes you want to make, you should have a good indication of how much work is ahead of you. Now onto revising. There are many revision methods that authors take to complete their next drafts. I’m going to go over a few options.

1. Chronologically: This is the method that I used. I worked through my changes one chapter at a time, starting from the prologue and ending with the last chapter. Any changes that crossed multiple chapters, I made notes of and made sure to incorporate elements when I got there. I felt like I could see myself progressing much more clearly, and it made me feel closer to the end with each step.

2. Major vs. Minor: Many authors like to focus on making their largest changes first. Plot holes, weak characterization: issues like that are confronted first. These tend to span multiple chapters or even the entire novel. Once major changes are made, then writers confront the smaller issues. These changes usually include items on a chapter by chapter basis.

3. Rewriting: This method is the most time consuming, in my opinion, but some authors find this to be very useful. This method of revision is a conscious choice to start over from the beginning. This is an entire rewrite of your novel. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But some people do find it easier to incorporate their changes through the natural writing process rather than inserting changes in here and there. Hey, once you’ve done it once, the next one is easier!

Once you’ve finished making all of your changes, big and small, you’ve got yourself a second draft! Isn’t that exciting?!

The Results of A Second Reader

One of the most important parts of preparing a draft for the querying stage is to get another opinion on your work. At a certain point in revising, an author loses sight of the flaws in their own work. When you’ve worked with a story for a long time, it becomes ingrained in your mind. You can’t see what’s clear or not clear.

This is the point where you need to pick a beta reader. An outside perspective that will let you know exactly at what stage your book is at. Whether you’re getting close to a polished draft to start querying on or whether you need some heavy revisions in certain sections. This person can really come from anywhere. It can be someone close to you, a family member or a friend who loves to read. It can be another writer that you’ve connected with through a writing group or social media. The possibilities are endless. You only have to make sure of two things.

  1. Your beta reader is going to be able to be critical about your work without covering their opinion to assuage you.
  2. Your beta reader is available to finish your book in a reasonable time frame.

Two weeks ago, I was ready for this stage of the writing process. For my first reader, I chose my boyfriend. I did this for several reasons. He’d been extremely motivational during the writing process. He’d been asking for weeks to be the first to read it. But most importantly, I knew that he was going to be able to be critical of my work and tell me exactly what needed to be done regardless of whether it hurt my feelings. He’s one of those people who loves to find loopholes in everything.

Spoiler: There were a lot of loopholes that need fixing.

One of the things about the writing process that I don’t think authors talk enough about is their mistakes during drafting. So I’d like to be candid about what the results of having a beta reader were for me:

1. Too much plot convenience in the beginning: Things happen a little too quickly without much explanation of how we got there. My main character, Grace’s strength doesn’t quite match her body type and needs to be adjusted. Speed and agility over strength.

2. Magic system: My boyfriend immediately pointed out to me that certain parts (okay, maybe more than a few) of my magic system were overpowered and needed some sort of system to work out exactly how much power each individual had. We sat down together and worked out a tiered level system that allows for both natural affinity and growth within those affinities without giving everyone a high level right away. As I’ve been working on it over the past couple days, I am finding it to work a lot better!

3. Economy: Can I say no comment here? Because… I just don’t do economics. I had no idea what I was doing. My boyfriend made that very clear. On the upside, we’re gonna work on that together later! (Thank God.)

4. Relationships: The relationship between Grace and Aiden needed to be explored further at a slower pace with more scenes added. See, I was afraid of writing too much, but it seems I wrote too little. Luckily for me, it’s easier to add than cut!

Extra: My boyfriend seemed to guess a lot of things before they happened. I’m pretty sure that’s a combination of the way he is and how well he knows me. I’ll need a second opinion on this.

Now, I get to move forward and revise yet again! But this time, with a much clearer picture of what needs to be done to improve my novel. Overall, an extremely favorable experience. <3

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions: Part 1

This Sunday, I completed round one of revisions for Chasing Fae. It was a long and laborious process, and while I’m incredibly excited and proud that I made it through, I know my job is far from over. But for now, let’s talk about what round one of revisions looked like, especially for those of you who find themselves in the revision stages of a novel.

Once NaNoWriMo was over, I put aside the book for about two weeks. It’s a little short of a turn around time, but that’s the bare minimum time that you should let a novel sit before attempting revisions. When I picked it back up, I read the first draft all the way through while taking notes. Now, I did this in Google Docs, using comments down the side to make my notes. Most writers like to print their draft out and make handwritten notes. I did not have the means to print out 200+ pages at the time, and I found that working online and typing works faster for me.

I did not hold back in my comments. I picked out everything, large or small, that I wanted to fix or add or revise. Nothing was sacred, and that’s the way it should be. You have to be critical if you want to get anywhere with your next draft.

From there, it was two long months of revising. I wrote about an additional 8000 words. I fleshed out worldbuilding details in various places, trying to make the Three Realms come to life in a brighter way. I wrote two new chapters and reworked nearly the entire middle of the novel to create better flow. I tried to work on my characters by making their intentions more clear from scene to scene.

Eventually, I ended up with a beautiful set of 66,519 words of YA fantasy.

Now, I’m beginning to send this second draft out to my chosen beta readers who I’m hoping can give me a lot more feedback about where my novel needs to go next. I know that there are places that need a lot of work, and I really would like help identifying where those places are. I’m looking forward to seeing what they think!

Until next time. <3