By Shane Snow
The other day, a friend and I were talking about becoming better writers by doing a “reading level analysis” of our work. Scholars have formulas for automatically estimating reading level using syllables, sentence length, and other proxies for vocabulary and concept complexity. After the chat, just for fun, I ran a chapter from my book through the most common one, the Flesch-Kincaid index:
I learned, to my dismay, that I’ve been writing for eighth graders.
Curiosity piqued, I decided to see how I compared to the first famous writer that popped in my head: Ernest Hemingway. So I ran a reading level calculation on The Old Man and the Sea. That’s when I was really surprised:
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