More to the point, how would Hemingway write it?  He was known for simple sentences and clear, basic descriptions of things (“it was hot” instead of “the heat hammered his body like Vulcan’s forge”). So, like everything else nowadays, there’s an app that can grade the quality and clarity of your writing.

I tried it with the script I’m currently writing for a video production – the rating came back as good, with a suggestion that I reduce the number of adverbs.  Then I tried it with the first draft of a proposal that was sent to me and others for a team review.  I wasn’t able to contribute anything, but the draft’s quality was judged as bad. Several sentences highlighted as unreadable.

They were, in fact. However, the effectiveness of how the Hemingway app was tested by Jerry Coyne with passages from Fitzgerald, Dinisen, and others.  The result?  They were just OK.

Readability is in the eyes of the person holding the book or document (some think the late David Foster Wallace was an insightful genius – others can’t slog through a chapter of one of his books without wanting to publicly hang the thing for crimes against literature), but sometimes tools like the Hemingway app aren’t consistent in their own evaluation.

(h/t: Why Evolution is True)

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