Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Question. . .

I sent a grammar and spelling fixed, rough draft, first chapter through the Virtual Editor. (See writing links in my sidebar.) I am happy to report that my passive voice is at 2.45% in rough draft stage. That is something I am extreemly proud of. I've worked hard training myself to write in active voice.

The question is how do you raise the "Reading Level" of your wirting? I'm not extreemely worried. I write at the level most people read but I wonder. What does it take to write at that higher level?

Opinions? Advise?


Nick Hobson said...

I recommend Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams. The chapters on cohesion and coherence are especially valuable, with many examples. And he covers the passive voice, noting that the main reason it exists in the language is to improve cohesion and emphasis.

Anonymous said...

Right on! I don't think I'd worry about the reading level - basically, that's based on the style of words you use (the more syllables the higher the score). Type a bunch of long words in, send it through, and see what it gets you. Okay, I was kidding about that...

Ever read "Jesus the Christ" by Talmage? That's the only book I've ever read that I needed to keep a dictionary on the table next to it. It was hard to read for just that reason - you want to write enjoyable fiction. Don't pay attention to the "score", just write a good story!

Jordan McCollum said...

According to the Wikipedia article, some reading level calculators also take into account sentence length. My reading level score on my WIP is allegedly like 3rd or 4th grade, but because it's determined by algorithms based on letters/word and words/sentence, that has nothing to do with the level of syntax nor the concepts therein.

I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing to have a "low" score, either, since that just means it should (we hope) be highly readable.

Jordan McCollum said...

Out of curiosity, I just used Virtual Editor for the first time, and I have to say that it is NOT always correct about passive voice. Specific examples from the 30 pages I sent through: "The game was tied," "She was relieved," "she was supposed to be/do."

Granted, these all COULD be passive constructs . . . in a different context, with active equivalents: "He tied the game with a run," "He relieved her of her cash," "He supposed her to be rich." But in context, they're not passive.

It takes the past form of "to be" with the past participle and assumes it's passive; it's not. The past participle has both active and passive uses.

My passive percentage was 2.22% and I've NEVER had a human have a problem with passive voice in my writing. This is why it always pays to have real, live crit partners, too!

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

When I first started writing I did have a large passive voice problem. It was really frustrating, and I had a hard time understanding passive versus active voice.

I finally had a friend explain it to me. I also used virtual editor to highlight the sentences it thought were passive. (At that point I was scoring about 15% passive acording to VE.)

I took my MS which was about 106,000 words and corrected every passive voice sentence I could through the whole MS. Boy did I learn a ton those weeks. Now, it comes natrualy to me.

I have a crit group and I have readers that also see it but not until I have done the basic edits myself.

I worked so hard to train myself not to write passive that I am proud of the improvement. I'm also glad to see someone else with a 2% passive voice. :)