Saturday, May 3, 2008
Flesch Readability Index: A Test for Your Writing
Question: I just completed my sixth edit, after following the advice in your book. What a great feature that Flesch Readability index is! I had no idea. (I'm pleased to report that the passive score for the initial draft of my children's book was 7%, but I've been able to reduce to 4% and the story is better for it. Is that low enough? I've no gauge.) At last, it seems the manuscript is done so I can begin the query/cover letter. I'm setting Friday as my target day to begin mailing, but will delay if the letter is not ready. Much to do but it has to be right.
What a relief to have finally figured it out and feel the satisfaction of doing what I enjoy! Thank you for the inclusive "we"; that is a club of which I'm proud to be a member.
Answer: First a little background on Flesch. It is an editing tool available with your Word program under tools. I describe how to find it and use it effectively in The Frugal Editor. It is especially useful for writers of children's material. Whether your Flesch score of 4% is low enough depends on your title and your goals. I like to see a little advanced language in children's literature. Especially if it is in a context where the child can pretty easily guess at its meaning. That approach helps build vocabularies.
Using the grade level feature in the Flesch pop-up box, some newspapers aim for a fourth grade level. That may give you something to go on -- sort of a measuring stick. The LA Times's Flesh score may be way above that, though.
What do you use the Flesch Readability tool in your Word program for. Please share with your fellow writers by using the comment link below. Be sure to include your website address in your signature. (-:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits and consults on issues of publishing. Find her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success on Amazon. Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com.