General

Flabby or Fit?

Today I measured my waistline.  Not my own wasteline, but that of my writing.  I came across the The Writer’s Diet test while reading about stylish academic writing in The Conversation.

I plugged in a couple of paragraphs from a manuscript I’m working on.

Turns out my writing is not in good shape.

Result: Flabby

The Writer’s Diet test assesses the proportion of words in your sample that fall into categories such as ‘nouns’, ‘prepositions’ and ‘verbs’, and then rates these against a scale that ranges from ‘lean’ to ‘heart attack’.  Clearly, I am heavy-handed with the nouns.

It also provides you with a diagnosis that includes tips for trimming down your writing.  For example, the test discourages overuse of nominalisations; long, important-sounding nouns formed from verbs or adjectives.  Great advice!  I normally hate nominalisations.  But I study detectability.

The Writer’s Diet is not a one-size-fits-all test; nor is it designed to be.  But it is a nice way to learn more about your writing and where you can afford to slim it down a bit.  Removing unnecessary prepositions and other ‘waste’ words is a great way to make your writing more direct, concise and accessible.

So I’m sending my verbs and adverbs to the gym.

*As an aside, I ran the above post through the test.   Result?  Needs toning.  I guess I’m improving.

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