Does anyone consider readability when writing?
I did a search of the forum and was surprised how few hits came up for readability. I'm curious if reading grade level/Flesch Kincaid scores play a roll in your writing? I've only used it as a curiosity at times. Since WotF is "PG-13" and the target audience has been suggested for YA or MG, has anyone done any analysis for the actual reading levels either in the anthology or the non-selected submissions?
I've been trying to simplify my writing and have found I've gone from 9th grade down to 5th. Did I undershoot too much? Does it matter?
I checked my story not too long ago (because I have it in Word, I could check). It was 3.3 if I remember correctly. Lower than my MG novel which was 3.5. I think my readability is super high because of how many paragraphs I have and how short and snappy everything is. Lots of dialog, etc.
I don't think it matters.
I haven't won this contest (yet). But just out of curiosity, I ran my semifinalist story through Grammarly, and the readability score came back as 85, along with this little note: "Your text is simple and easy to read. It’s likely to be understood by someone with at least a 6th-grade education (age 11)."
I also don't think it matters. I'd place a higher emphasis on things like wonder, engagement, and resonance, all of which are very touchy-feely kind of reactions to a story that aren't so easy to measure. You know a good story when you read it because you can just feel it.
"There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write."
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com
It doesn't seem to be all that useful. However, in my case, it helped me compensate for how unnecessarily complex I tend to write stories. Typical flaw for a newbie. <hangs head in shame>
I found this little example of how inaccurate Flesch-Kincaid is as it gets a perfect score of 100 and a grade level of .52. I'd be impressed if anyone can translate this without the use of a dictionary. "Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz"
It's interesting that you brought up readability scores, and it's not surprising that the topic hasn't been extensively discussed in the forum. While Flesch Kincaid scores and reading grade levels can provide a quantitative measure of text complexity, they are just one of many factors to consider in writing.
Consider the nature of your story and the themes you want to convey. It's often about finding the sweet spot where the language is accessible to your target audience but still captures the complexity and richness of your narrative. If your story engages readers emotionally and intellectually, the readability score becomes a secondary concern.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a compelling story that resonates with your intended audience.
I have never considered writing to any standard of readability, whether judged by book or algorythm. When considering a word or complex sentence for inclusion in a story, I will sometimes question whether my sci-fi/fantasy geek friends will understand (without pause) the term or sentence. Any element that may interrupt the read is excluded.
My intent in writing is to tell a story to an audience interested in the given genre. This presupposes a certain sophistication on the part of the audience. The read should flow seamlessly for the intended audience. Any interruption to look up a term or reread a sentence is an unwelcome distraction to the flow.
For you, I ran my most recent Finalist story through Grammarly and found that it is written at 7th grade level with a Flesch score of 79.
V40 - RWC, F, F, HM
V39 - SHM, SHM, HM, HM
V38 - SHM, R, SHM, SHM