Instead of writing — or even editing today — I got distracted online. You know what this is all about. You intend to “quick look something up” and end up clicking and linking. The next thing you know, an hour has passed.
I admit it: I clicked and linked for far too long today. One of the links lead to a tool called a “readability calculator.” I wanted to see if my sentences are too long to be clear.
This self-assessment came from this paraphrased information:
According to research by the American Press Institute, when the average sentence length was fewer than eight (8) words, readers understood 100% of the sentence. At fourteen (14) words, readers could still comprehend more than 90% of the information. But 43-word sentences are only 10% comprehended.
Clearly, if a writer wants to play the numbers, then “short and sweet.”
I cut 600 words from My Plus One and put it into the readability calculator. (The one I used took the average of six different calculators.) The result for writing sample #1: 10th-grade reading level. (MPO is my 3rd novel.)
Presuming I write “smarter” now than a year ago, I took 600 words from Accidental Gravitas and popped those into the readability calculator. The result for writing sample #2: 6th-grade reading level.
I played with the calculator for a while. It was both fun and meaningless.
I had every expectation that my “grade level” would have gone up. Wouldn’t you? But why presume that? Is that the goal? To be writing at “college-level”?
When I read, I don’t want to feel challenged — or even stupid. I like to fully comprehend what I read, so it seems that’s what I tend to write.
And frankly, who wants to read highfalutin, dense, and esoteric prose?
Probably someone; not me.
P.S. What you just read scored at the 8th-grade level.