Tag Archives: Concise Writing

Lots of adjectives and confusing sentences? There’s an app for that.

21 Feb

It seems there’s an app for everything these days and concise writing is just throwing its weight into the pile. But there are apps that are worth our time. It might be a good translation app, or a favorite game (Flappy Bird), but there are apps we hold dear.

And here’s a new one. You’re welcome.

It’s called the Hemingway app and it’s for your desktop, not your phone. I heard about it over on Gus Sanchez’s blog where he talked about it yesterday. The app takes a sample of your writing and calls out some elements of it that need your attention. The name implies it will make your writing more like Hemingway, but I feel it just makes it stronger in general.

It calls out five things: sentences that are ‘hard to read,’ sentences that are ‘very hard to read,’ adverbs, words that can be simplified, and use of the passive voice. If you’re getting excited already, click over to the Hemingway App and follow along.

Sentences that are’ hard to read’ and ‘very hard to read’ are based on the reading level needed to understand the sentence structure. ‘Hard’ requires a college-level reading ability and ‘very hard’ requires post-college level skills. If you’re like me and writing for young adults, it’s best to stick with simplifying these.

If Hemingway and Stephen King tell us to avoid adverbs at all costs, we should consider that this argument has merit. All your ‘-ly’ words are called out, giving you the chance to strengthen your verbs. My favorite feature is that it gives you a threshold to stay under based on your word count. Genius! Words that can be simplified are highlighted and paired with suggestions for a replacement. Passive voice again gives you a threshold and supplies the active form of the verb.

I’m in love with this. What a great tool! I’ve even put this blog post through it so I hope you think I’m using some powerful language.

My final grade: 7/10, Good. 2 sentences are ‘hard to read,’ 0 are ‘very hard to read,’ 0 adverbs, 3 words could be simplified (it’s the word ‘very’ all three times), and five uses of passive voice with a threshold of five. Can you find my two ‘hard to read’ sentences?

Is this helpful to you? Will you use this tool to clean up your writing? Let me know what you think in a comment, I love to hear from you!

Until next time, write on.