Monday, March 18, 2024

Ruling, and Part I of PWA and AutoCrit

 First, it’s release day for Ruling, the ninth book in the Dragons Run My Life series.


Click the link you like to acquire a copy.

Cover image for Ruling

Buy at Amazon   Books2Read (epub3)    or Print (Amazon)

One Pole At A Time is coming along nicely, and if all goes to plan, it will be available for pre-order just after Ruling’s release, and released on April first.

AutoCrit and ProWritingAid Part I

If your not interested in the nuts and bolts of editing, feel free to clock away to whatever pursuits are important to you. Otherwise…

I almost wrote "versus" in the title and heading, but that's not really true. There are comparisons, but not in the sense of choosing one over the other. As you'll see, I use both; this may explain why I make my choices. YMMV.

These are two software attempts to ease the writer’s editing tasks, kind of taking the middle ground between the writer’s first read-thru after typing The End, and the bevy of first readers, beta readers, editors of all descriptions (and prices) that proceed the release to Amazon or to one of its competitors, or if you’re into self-inflicted pain, before you begin sending your query letters to agents for representation.

As I said last week, these are software, not a magic bullet, though for the prices they charge, you might be forgiven for thinking different. A human with a mind that remembers that a description from the beginning of your work probably still applies as you approach the climax, for example.

Let me digress to say how I do things, being fully aware that my techniques shouldn’t be applicable to any other person. This is more so you can understand where my decisions rise, and why I might complain about some things and not others. I use Scrivener as my main writing tool. Since I distribute through Amazon’s KDP for Kindle e-books and POD paperbacks, and Draft2Digital for the wide world of epub3 compatible reading device e-books, in Scrivener I use different Front and Back Matter to differentiate the three output files. The difference between Amazon and D2D e-books is primarily the sales links allowed in each. For Print, the links are replaced by qr codes. I produce an rtf file which Nesus Writer Pro then tweaks before creating a pdf file to go to the Zon.

PWA accepts as input my Scrivener project, as is. With multiple trials, Scrivener has never failed to open the file that PWA produces, and the changes are accurately reflected. There are interesting anomalies in PWA’s display of text, but they don’t affect the final version.

AC accepts rtf files (and a couple others: [MS Word(.docx), rich text (.rtf) or plain text (.txt)]), but I’ve not tried any but the rtf, since it’s already in my work flow.

Here I’ll say a word about versions. I’m sure you have a way to keep track of where you are, so I won’t tell you it’s important that you do. But because (unlike PWA) I can’t easily bring the AC output file back into Scrivener, when I make a change to the text in AC’s editor, I have to make the same change in my Scrivener source file. It’s a pain, but okay. Keep track of the files you use for anything, especially in the case where the file is an off-shoot.

I said last week that they both work on chunks of your manuscript, rather than the whole thing. I need to recant a little.

PWA might work on the whole of a 50-150k-word ms, but it provides a dire warning message for any document bigger than about 10k-words. You’ll find it faster, it says, to analyze smaller sections of the document. As result, I haven’t tried to run over the whole of one of my books.

AC, on the other hand, won’t analyze a slab of text more than 20k-words. Less than that and for the Story Analysis and Fiction Analysis functions, the piece is considered a short story. I’ve done little with short fiction, and have no gleaming insights. 

For files of book length⁠—I’ve used between 70 and 100 k-words⁠—for the Story Analysis and Fiction Analysis tools, the work must be chapterized. What that means to me as a user: I have to check that I have breaks in the text (which I do, that’s not an issue), that the breaks are called “Chapter” (this was a minor aggravation, requiring me to change my source file, more later) and then check each of them is less than the limit (this required me to add three or four pseudo-chapters (named Chapter thus and so, of course) that I then had to remember to remove at the end of the exercise.

Their help video points out that you don’t have to have chapters in the text, and if you do but they’re not named “Chapter”, that’s okay, because you can go through the ms, either finding what you did call your chapters (you did call them something, right?) or just blocking it off in 5-10 k-word chunks. Like I said, I decided it was less effort to fork the source file and make one special for the AC experience.

Turns out that’s necessary but not sufficient. I still had to take my chapterized ms and after inputting it, tell AutoCrit that there are chapters and they are called chapter, so it can find them. That’s done by clicking a button called Find Chapters (I think; I don’t have it open right now) and it does that, lickety-split. You’ll get a warning if one or more chunks exceed the limit; you have to go back and add chapters, or exercise the procedure I mentioned just above.

That’s what I was thinking of when I made my blanket statement. For the Story Analysis and Fiction Analysis tools, the chapterization is required.

However, all the other checks are done on the complete ms. This is good and bad.

Part II - the information and displays provided by the software comes next. It takes several screenshots to convey, so, shortly.

Comments always welcome, especially if I’ve been unclear (as if!).

No comments:

Post a Comment