In my post the week before last, I introduced Authors A. I. as a new tool to help authors improve their fiction writing, and I said I would try it out. Last week, I went on the Authors A I website, paid my $89 for a single review, and an hour later I received an email from Marlowe – the name of the persona who has the artificial intelligence – attaching her report on the draft of my latest novel, for which I’m seeking an agent.
Authors A. I. doesn’t permit subscribers to sent out copies of Marlowe’s reports, but they would be happy if I send out copies of graphics from my report. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to copy and paste the graphics, so, I’ll describe them.
The first graphic is a plot of narrative arc and plot turns against the percentage of the novel from 0% – the beginning to 100% – the end. For my novel, the narrative arc in green is a complete sine wave, starting at its low point, going through a positive peak, a negative peak and ending on a positive peak, which is accurate. The plot turns, in purple, starts very negative, goes through two positive peaks, turns negative and trends upward through twp peaks to end positive. I don’t disagree with this but the commentary in this section is general and is not specific to my novel.
The second graphic is narrative beats, a series of ten fairly evenly spaced vertical purple lines, each marked with the percentage of the book at which it occurs. Beats are turning points where conflict is resolved or introduced. The commentary says that beats should be evenly spaced and about ten. I have to confess that’s the way my novel turned out; not the way I designed it. This section quotes from the text of my novel where Marlowe says the beat occurred.
The third graphic is pacing and shows the relative pacing versus the length of the book. For my book, there are five peaks of relatively high pace and four valleys, two of which are very low. Again, the peaks and valleys are marked with percentages, and the text at those points is printed out. The commentary is general and not specific to my novel.
The fourth graphic shows the personality traits of four of my characters in terms of the top five of nine trails each character exhibits. This section is useful in observing whether the characters are different enough from each other and are they as intended?
The fifth graphic is dialogue vs. narrative. My novel is 58% dialogue in purple and 42% narrative in green. This is heavier in dialogue than I would have wanted, but at least the dialogue is evenly spaced throughout the book. A graphic of a multitude of purple and green lines shows how each is used throughout the book. Two characters act as narrators in the novel, and much of the story is revealed between their quotation marks.
The graphic on major subjects in the book is disappointing. It shows the most important subject – at 5.47% – as Important Decisions and it descends through nine other subjects to Description of the Body at 2.47%. The major subjects of the book are: death/dying, faith, family and vocation. None of these makes the list.
There is a section on explicit language. I said ‘damn’ five times. A section on cliches says I used ‘hands on’ five times. Repetitive phrases says I used ‘to be a’ thirty times. This could be interesting data.
There is a graphic on sentence length vs. number of sentences of that length. In popular fiction, most sentences are two to ten words long. My average sentence length is 12.82 words. Popular fiction typically has a complexity score of 2.0 to 3.0 My novel has a complexity score of 2.76, and my most complex sentence scores 7.19. My reading grade score is 7.18. To put this in context, you need to have a look at https://contently.com/2015/01/28/this-surprising-reading-level-analysis-will-change-the-way-you-write/
The graphic on use of adverbs shows that I (disappointingly) used ‘very’ 121 times (out of 81,000 words), and similarly for adjectives, I used ‘good’ 149 times. There is a graphic on verb choice and use of the passive voice. This, though, requires use of the find function in Word to see whether ‘is’ is part of the passive voice.
There is a table which shows the frequency of various forms of punctuation. There is no spell check in this version of Marlowe.
I feel that my $89 were well invested in at least provoking my thinking and stirring me to action on a couple of points.
Marlowe is under development. Hopefully, later versions will produce more manuscript-specific comments on the metrics used.