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Friday, July 18, 2008

Repeated words and phrases

(Don't forget to comment on my online class idea.)

I just found this great resource called AutoCrit. It analyzes your writing to catch words and phrases repeated and overused in your manuscript.

From the contest judging and freelance editing jobs I have done, I know that other writers as well as myself have a tendency to repeat words and/or phrases, not just our “hot words.”

For example, “pop” is not a word I use often, but I might write something like:

I went to the local mom and pop grocery to grab a soda pop, and then I popped out of town.

The free version is very limited and will only catch overused words, repeated phrases, and sentence variation. You can also only submit 800 words 5 times in one day.

The paid versions offer more, included repeated words (which would catch the “pop” above), dialogue tags, first words, and names and pronouns.

The free version itself is amazing. The cost for the lowest level of membership isn’t bad, just $20 for one year, and it analyzes the things that I have the most problems with—pronouns, repeated words, and first words.

Check it out for yourself. Even just using the free version once a day will help you with your writing.

(disclaimer: I don't get any cutbacks or kudos from Autocrit, I just think it's a great resource.)

3 comments:

  1. I'm going to have disagree about the usefulness of this program. I first saw it a couple of months ago when a writer posted a chapter for critique that he'd edited based upon this program. He treated all the words it flagged as if they were rules to be followed--and he revised accordingly. The result was many poorly constructed sentences, where it was obvious that he was trying to avoid using words like was.

    I tried it out myself and honestly didn't see a lot value in it. What I could see was a writer getting rejected by lots of agents, running their chapter through it, and freaking because they used the word was and thinking that's why the agent rejected them--missing the fact that their first chapter was an info dump. It's a way of doing fixes that feel productive but won't touch the bigger writing problems.

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  2. Linda, you bring up a good point that a writer shouldn't rely only on a program like this. Writers need to get comfortable enough with their writing to know what to listen to and what to ignore when they get feedback, whether from a program or critique partners. I found this program useful mostly for repeated words, repeated pronouns, and repeated first words because I didn't even realize some words were being repeated so often. I wouldn't use this for anything more than that.
    Camy

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