Quick update on software

Just a quick update on my thoughts about AutoCrit. I went ahead and sprang for the $15/first month special earlier this morning. I’ll admit, things didn’t get off on the right foot. Part of it was because I was fumble-fingered in entering some of the information. Part of it was because their sign-up page isn’t as clear as it should be about what they want and what is or is not required. Anyway, I tried their chat function and got a real person who helped navigate through the problem and soon enough I was able to try the program.

The first thing I realized is that some of the reviews I’d read were right. There is a learning curve to the app. Not as big of one as you have with Scrivener, especially some of the earlier versions, but it is there.

If there is anything I don’t like about the app it is that it connects up with Grammarly for spell and grammar check instead of having its own native checker. But that’s a personal thing. I happen to like ProWritingAid more and have had a lifetime subscription to it for several years now. (Along this line, PWA offers a great deal more than it used to, which is why I doubted whether I’d really want AutoCrit or not.)

Anyway, I loaded in the snippet I posted yesterday–after running it through ProWritingAid and making a few edits. I have to say, I’m impressed with what I got when I ran an analysis. Basically, you tell the app if you are writing fiction or non-fiction. If it is fiction, you can choose to have it analyze the text based on either genre (admittedly, it is a limited list here) or by comparing your work to one of a list of authors. Once you’ve made that decision, you can ask for a general analysis which will build a synopsis of the text, show conflicts, list your characters, make world building notes, point out any contradiction in the text, do a timeline analysis, note foreshadowing elements, list plot threads, and do a general analysis which will include POV and what genre the text most conforms to.

I do need to mention here that your choice of genre/author/whatever doesn’t stick from project to project. If you choose fantasy for one and then open another and set it for SF, when you go back to the first project, it will now be set for SF. It takes only a couple of seconds to change it, but still…it would be nice if it didn’t switch like that.

Anyway, here is what it gave me for the first chapter:

Synopsis:

Chapter One, titled “FNS Windwalker,” opens with Captain Travis Locke of the cruiser Windwalker contemplating the upcoming return of his ship to Fuercon for repairs and his eventual retirement. He reflects on the boredom interspersed with bouts of excitement that characterize this sector of space. Locke is haunted by memories of war and hopes to avoid leading another crew into battle.

After assigning Lt. Commander Geron “Wash” Franklin as acting captain, Locke prepares to rest in his quarters when a distress signal interrupts their routine. The comms officer, Lt. Aliyah Magana, reports an incoming distress call from Captain Marlon Dathe aboard the Shalimar, a merchant ship under attack by three armed frigates.

Locke listens intently as Magana tries unsuccessfully to establish contact with the distressed vessel. He orders CPO Andres Jungerman to expand their search on scanners while he analyzes the situation on the holo plot display. Despite being aware that entering Bennington space without authorization would risk severe consequences, Locke feels compelled to respond to the distress call.

Unable to raise anyone from Bennington System Defense and lacking proof that lives are in immediate danger, Locke decides not to take action yet but demands Magana keep trying while maintaining alert status alpha. He resolves to contact FleetCom about their lackluster response and heads towards his ready room.

Before leaving, however, he instructs Magana to broadcast a warning message not only to the attacking frigates but also any other ships nearby: if they continue their attack on Shalimar it will be considered a violation against Bennington space and its treaties with Fuercon, making them subject to Windwalker’s intervention as pirates or slavers.

The chapter ends with Locke retreating into his ready room hopeful that either the frigates or system government will respond soon but fearing it may already be too late for Shalimar and her crew.

Chapter One is written from the third-person limited point of view, primarily focusing on Captain Travis Locke’s thoughts and actions.

Conflict

1. Captain Travis Locke’s internal conflict between wanting a peaceful retirement and feeling compelled to respond to the distress call from the Shalimar.
2. The conflict between Captain Locke’s orders not to enter Bennington space without authorization and his desire to help the Shalimar.
3. The potential conflict with the Bennington system government if Captain Locke decides to take action without permission.
4. The unknown conflict that led to the distress call from the Shalimar, which is under attack by three unknown frigates.
5. The possibility of an ambush or trap in response to Windwalker’s attempt to assist the Shalimar.

Note: There are multiple conflicts present in this chapter, including internal conflicts within Captain Locke and external conflicts involving other characters and their environment.

I’m not going to include everything here. But here’s the Timeline Analysis:

1. Captain Travis Locke reflects on the nearing end of Windwalker’s mission and his upcoming retirement.
2. The distress signal from the Shalimar interrupts Locke’s thoughts and brings tension to the ship.
3. The crew tries to establish communication with the distressed ship but fails, indicating a potential dangerous situation.
4. Captain Locke orders an expanded search for any possible threats in the sector.
5. The holo plot reveals a matching signature to the distressed ship, confirming it as a merchant vessel registered out of Bennington.
6. Despite wanting to respond to the distress call, Captain Locke is aware that he needs authorization from Bennington System’s government due to regulations and treaties between Fuercon and Bennington.
7. Unable to make contact with system defense immediately, Captain Locke decides to prepare a message for FleetCom regarding their lack of response and understanding of the situation in this sector of space.
8. Captain Locke broadcasts a warning message to both the frigates attacking Shalimar and any other ships listening, threatening consequences if they continue their attack without withdrawing.

Note: This analysis focuses solely on events that impact or drive forward the main story line within Chapter One

Since I am pantsing so much of this book, having the Plot Thread Analysis is very important. So is having plot conflicts pointed out–although, what the app sees as a conflict isn’t always one. Which is simply a reminder not to totally rely on tech.

You can also have the app analyze the pacing of the text (and it isn’t limited to just one chapter). The only issue with this part of the app is it doesn’t seem to differentiate between conversation and the rest of the text.

Just a quick note. I uploaded the first chapter of Surtr’s Fury and said to analyze it using Patricia Briggs as the reference. The chapter analysis followed the same pattern as with Warborn. Another analysis you can run is the “fiction analysis”. It gives much the same information as the chapter analysis, but with a slightly different slant to it. The one thing it does do is make suggestions on how to strengthen the story. Taking both analyses together, the app can be an excellent tool to make sure you don’t leave poor JoJo hanging off the cliff at the end of Chapter 3, never to return to find out if he managed to climb up or if he fell to his death.

There is something the Fiction Analysis offers that I really like: Genre Conformity analysis. Here’s what it said based on the first chapter of Surtr’s Fury:

The chapter summary provided for Chapter One suggests that the text fits within the Urban Fantasy genre. This is evidenced by several key elements present in the narrative:

1. **Supernatural Elements**: The existence of paranormal beings, such as a troll-dwarf hybrid and a powerful witch/seer, is a hallmark of urban fantasy. These elements are seamlessly integrated into what appears to be a modern or near-future setting.

2. **Post-Upheaval World**: The mention of an event called “the Upheaval” implies that there has been some significant change in the world order, which is now acknowledged to include supernatural entities. This often occurs in urban fantasy settings where magical and mundane realities have merged.

3. **Discrimination Against Paranormal Beings**: A common theme in urban fantasy is tension between humans and supernatural beings, with discrimination providing conflict within society.

4. **Protagonist’s Role**: Rip being employed as a Conclave Marshal indicates she serves as an enforcer or peacekeeper between these worlds, which aligns well with protagonists’ roles in many urban fantasies who navigate both human and non-human societies.

5. **First-Person Narrative**: While not exclusive to any one genre, first-person point-of-view narration is frequently used in urban fantasy to provide an intimate connection with the protagonist who typically has unique insights or abilities related to the fantastical elements of their world.

There are no chapters listed that conflict with this overall genre assessment based on this single chapter summary provided; however, it should be noted that additional chapters could potentially introduce elements that might shift the perceived genre if they were significantly at odds with these established conventions (e.g., high-tech science fiction aspects without magical integration).

To ensure continued conformity with the urban fantasy genre throughout subsequent chapters:
– Maintain consistency regarding how magic and supernatural entities interact with contemporary societal structures.
– Continue developing characters whose backgrounds and abilities reflect a blend of mystical lore within a recognizable real-world context.
– Preserve thematic tensions around coexistence between humans and paranormal beings while exploring personal conflicts specific to your protagonist’s journey.

Without further information from other chapters, it isn’t possible to identify specific deviations from genre norms; therefore recommendations for adjustments cannot be made beyond maintaining fidelity to established conventions outlined above as more of Rip’s story unfolds through subsequent summaries or full-text analysis.

Is the program worth the cost? I’m still not sure. It is really going to be up to what you want out of it. What I’ve seen it is can be very useful–but for it to work for me, it will be used in conjunction with ProWritingAid.

One thing I haven’t mentioned, it is the first such program where I don’t see a problem with actually using it as a writing platform. I like the look of the interface. Certain tweaks may still need to be done in a dedicated word processing program, but that’s easily enough done.

Anyway, that’s my impression after using the app for a couple of hours. Oh yeah, the big drawback for me is that you have to be online to use the various tools offered by the app. I will update further after I’ve spent more time with the app.

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