The Hemingway Mangle
Posted by Dirck on 17 April, 2014
As I’ve been slightly balked in writing today, let me tell you about something I find stupid. WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed” is something I look into every day, and one day a short while ago, it led me to someone else’s blog, who was also griping about a tool which allows you to make your writing simple.
Not “easy to do,” but rather “unchallenging,” and not for the writer, but for the reader. This thing, the “Hemingway App“, by whatever algorithms compose its vitals, gives any bit of writing its fed a once-over and points out chunks which are too hard to read. It also rates the whole as to what grade level of reading it believes the piece merits. The idea, of course, is to render one’s writing as terse, dynamic and accessible as that of Hemingway himself. One is told that anything over a Grade 10 level is too hard for the mass of people.
By way of comparison, The Da Vinci Code rates at Grade 6.
The app declares “aircraft” a tricky and hard-to-grip word. I should, it says, go with “plane.”
I won’t go on at length (because I hain’t the time) about how much this bugs me; the person who showed it to me does an excellent job of that. I did give the thing a try, and there’s a certain amount of pride and shame attached.
Pride, as my site generally runs around the Grade 20 level (we do not ask which school system keeps counting as high as 25). The blog is more accessible, I suppose because of shorter entries, averaging Grade 14.
Shame, because most of my stories don’t go above Grade 12, and some are even approved of by the app’s proofing. Alas, I am base, common and popular in my fiction! Although… if I can get popular, I suppose I’ll live with the other two.