Writing Tests

Oh, joy! SM William of the Blue Candle Society blog has alerted me to yet another procrastination tool that is just fun fun fun!

I’m not joking. I really like these things. Not sure why…

Here are three sites for your obsessive needs. No need to thank me. 🙂

Not Sure About Your Gender?

Male symbol. Created by Gustavb.
Male symbol. Created by Gustavb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Check out the Gender Genie over on bookblog.

Two samples of my writing revealed that I was MALE. Here are my results for a piece of writing that contained both a female and male protagonist with about equal “face time” with the reader:

Words: 1193

Female Score: 1434
Male Score: 1581

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

(Note to new readers: I’ve been a woman since the day I was born. Though, to be honest, it has come under question more than once… 😉 )

Been Adding a Bit of Weight on the Ole Hips, Hmm?

Brought to you by SM Williams, check out the Writer’s Diet writing test. Designed to find if your prose is flabby or fit, get ready to read some straight talk!

I entered in the same two samples of prose as I did in the test above and the results were the same:

(Why can’t I get my scale to say the same when I step on it? 😦 )

If No One Can Understand You, Do You Matter?

I featured the Readability Index Calculator in another post some time ago, but thought I’d resurrect it again as it fit the subject of this post so aptly. Want to make sure everyone on the planet can read and understand your prose? Head on over with that sample of your writing and see what Flesch and Kincaid think. Here are my results (about the same for my fiction pieces used in the tests above):

Method used: Flesch-Kincaid (English).

Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 7.
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score: 69.

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score indicates how easy a text is to read. A high score implies an easy text. In comparison comics typically score around 90 while legalese can get a score below 10.

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level indicates the grade a person will have to have reached to be able to understand the text. E.g. a grade level of 7 means that a seventh grader will be able to understand the text.

That’s all I have for you today. Enjoy the rest of your week! Later.

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16 thoughts on “Writing Tests

  1. You’re right, that’s terrific procrastination-stuff! Here I am, going on midnight, with another half dozen articles to turn in before I hit the sack (and this after I wrote through the night and turned in at seven this morning… I’m too old for this s*%t)—and I’m playing “Gender Genie” instead of researching my next article!

    I’m now here to procrastinate further by reporting that I have baffled it! It’s flip-flopping between “male” and “female,” but every time I’m just a few words off from being EXACTLY balanced. (Last run: 2650 female, 2659 male). How very intriguing…

    Actually, I *was* intrigued with the gender-assignment of the various keywords (“to,” “the,” “these,” “a,” “at,” and “it” are MALE words?), so I also had to extend the procrastination to go read the NY Times article about the theory on which the algorithm was based… Huh, who knew, it’s a theory proposed by my favorite people-explainer (I’m sure that’s her title on business cards), Deborah Tannen. Her book “You Just Don’t Understand” EXACTLY described my first marriage—except I did all the “guy” stuff and he had the “girl” role. Evidently that’s spilling over into my writing too…

    Actually, as I was reading the descriptions of word-choice-by-gender, I was thinking that the “female” stuff sounded like my English-major-side and the “male” stuff sounds like my Science-major-side. I’ve written before about that particular split personality (might sound counter-intuitive, but I’m pretty sure the “scientist” is the poet between those two), but I’d never paid attention to these particular words…

    Wow, lots of food-for-procrastination! I mean THOUGHT. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    1. My sincerest apologies! I did not intend to keep anyone up past their bed time. I hope you got your writing assignments completed. 😮

      You are such the good researcher! I haven’t checked out the underlining assumptions. Those are interesting words to attribute to male. I noticed that ‘with’ was considered female. Mind you, Spanish does that all the time, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense what is considered male verses female, but there it is.

      However, I think this is different, right? It is about our word choice. Given that we (writers) have access to all that our available, one gender picks a set of words over another, right? Or something like that?

      I’m not sure it says anything about us, but it is fun to try to fool it. 🙂

  2. I’m pleased to see that half of my stuff reads as “male” and half “female”, though looking at the keywords I suspect first-person POV tends to skew female. The fun part about these tests is always trying to figure out why they go wrong. For instance, is Neil Gaiman “flabby” and HP Lovecraft “lean” because the rules are misapplied (calling “family” an adverb, for instance), or because the whole concept is off?

    1. Oh – you are thinking about it way too much. I don’t put much stock in ’em. It’s just fun to do when the words are not appearing on the page/screen…

      But, yes, I suspect POV and tense might skew the gender one. And, as you noted, the diet one is mis-identifying some words. That’s sort of like saying, “You can lose 2 whole pounds if you chop off your foot!” 🙄

      1. Yes, I suppose I’m overthinking. I have a tendency to take these things too seriously. Like right now, over on my web page, I’ve kicked off a deadly-serious conversation about Cadbury Creme Eggs. You should tackle some of these difficult topics, rather than focusing so much on writing and all.

  3. Great stuff, thanks for posting!

    The writer’s diet tool appears to be focused more on academic prose but still interesting to see the feedback (I tend to get dinged on some passages on verbs which I don’t think I’ll do anything about for fiction but also it/this/that which I should do something about). Was interesting to run different sections through.

  4. I tried the Gender genie, once with an action scene, and once with a section of dialog. I came out male both times, and that definitely isn’t so. The action scene was just under 900 words, while the other was just over 1000. I thought it was interesting that the action scene was more balanced than the other.
    Action Scene:
    Female Score: 913
    Male Score: 979
    Dialog Scene:
    Female Score: 1097
    Male Score: 1250

    1. I think what is more telling is the words it picks to determine if you are male or female. The more ‘direct’ words are male, while the more ‘conditional’ words are female. I think, if you write any sort of fiction, it’ll say you are male. I wonder what it would say if I put in the text from an email or essay…

  5. Tried the Gender Genie… it is amusing but not convinced of the utility of it for fiction writing. Some of my narrative was tagged male, some female but that section happened to be the male protag thinking about a female character so there were a lot of female pronouns. Guys thinking about gals is kind of “male” if you ask me 🙂

    But it tends to peg my female to female dialogue as female and my male to male dialogue as male, so that seems okay.

    Marc

    1. Hmmm, I’ll have to try out my dialogue. But to tell you the truth, I think it will still peg *me* as male because that’s just the way I write. But we shall see. I’ll try it tomorrow.

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