Our motto at Writers Write is: ‘Write to communicate.’ The best way to do this is to learn to write in plain language.
We need to learn how to say difficult things in the simplest language. If we do this, we are able to reach a larger audience. This is true for business writing, blogging, and creative writing.
Running readability statistics is an excellent way to test if you are writing in plain language. You will find a link to a free online readability calculator at the end of this post.
“In Fiction Writer’s Brainstormer, James V. Smith explains exactly how the best-selling authors succeed. After studying authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, and Elmore Leonard, he came up with this as an ideal writing standard (if you want to sell more books).
Once you are finished writing your novel, run readability statistics on the entire manuscript. You should have (on average):
- four characters per word
- a passive voice score of less than 5%
- at least an 80% readability score on the Flesch-Kincaid scale
- no higher than a 5th grade readability level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale (This does not mean a fifth grader would understand it. It means you are writing in the active voice, using understandable words.)”
From Analysing Agatha – How to become the best-selling novelist of all time
Business writers need to watch readability levels. Research shows people respond to shorter emails written with a Grade 3 level on your readability statistics.
We achieve these statistics by using short sentences and easily understood words. We need to avoid texting language, and we should use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. We also have to minimise our use of the passive voice. [Read The Passive Voice Explained – Plus An Infographic]
‘If your sentences go on forever, if you use out-dated words, and if you always write in the passive voice, I will leave and never come back. You need to write simply to convey complex ideas. Avoid overused and unnecessary modifiers and qualifiers. I think there is a place for adjectives and adverbs on blogs, but they must add to the piece and not distract me.
Tip: Check your readability statistics before you post. If they are too low and your passive content is too high, rewrite your blog so that people will enjoy reading it.’
If you want to communicate in business, attract more followers to your blog, or write more readable books, I recommend learning how to use readability tools.
Click on this image to use this free online readability calculator.
Test your website: If you want to test how readable your entire blog or website is, click here
On our creative course, Writers Write, we teach you exactly how to do this.
If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme.
© Amanda Patterson
If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
- Between Friends: Writing Advice From Hemingway To Fitzgerald
- 25 Email Etiquette Tips For Professional People
- What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?
© Amanda Patterson