A.I. of the 2020s meets stories of the 1920s

A while back, I promised to talk more about artificial intelligence.

As mentioned in that post, I do think it can help with tasks such as editing and photograph restoration, but I have no desire to use it for writing. It might be decent for casual uses such as ad copy and form letters, but I don’t see it capturing the soul and personality of language anytime soon.

I recently finished the first half of my upcoming book, Welcome to Eureka Springs: The I-Sh*-You-Not History of America’s Quirkiest Town. Now, I’m polishing it with the help of AutoCrit.

AutoCrit keeps a writer’s game tight. It combines linguistic analysis with AI into something like the spell checker that ate Manhattan.

It counts repetitions, so I can notice that maybe, just maybe, I use “that’s not to say” a little too often.

It looks for signs of weak writing, such as cliches and unnecessary “filler” words. It compares pacing and readability against bestsellers in a chosen genre (narrative nonfiction in my case).

It challenges me to identify the essence of what I’m trying to say. The results can be subtle, but add up to more punch.

For example, one of my original sentences was: “Sure Pop might have made a fortune, but it was from locals dreaming of the easy life rather than oil.”

AutoCrit said, “‘Might have’? ‘It was’? Thbpbpthpt!”, though with less soul and personality. I rewrote my sentence as, “Sure Pop hit paydirt, but from locals dreaming of the easy life rather than oil.”

It’s leaner and meaner, and keeps the pace I’m aiming for.

By the way, the University of Arkansas’s Inquiry journal recently published a research paper about Sure Pop by Eureka Springs resident Kelli Ladwig. She fleshes out the oft-told story of the town’s one-time oil fever with details from old records and newspaper stories.

I just might read my Sure Pop chapter next month at Poetluck’s revival from its winter sleep. The potluck literary salon starts up again 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs. (The second Wednesday of every month is a change from last year’s schedule.)

I tried coming up with a cool wrap-up starting with “That’s not to say,” but yeah, it is a little much. Thanks, AutoCrit.

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