A few weeks ago I used a service to do an analysis of my blog to see what reading level it was written at. I was a bit taken aback that the site is at a Junior High School level. As an avid reader and blogger, I should be doing better than Junior High School, shouldn't I? Giving it some extra thought, I'm not so sure I have anything to be embarrassed about.
How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
One of my favorite English professors opened up our class once with a writing exercise, How to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. We had a good 30 minutes to write the instructions, and the next day, she surprised us by bringing in a jar of peanut butter, jelly, bread, and a butter knife.
Our fine professor then began to follow the instructions and make the sandwiches. The end product was a disaster with the brief directions as much as with the most descriptive. Perhaps the funniest were those who never mentioned utilizing a knife at all. It was the first English class I had taken that I walked out with a stomach ache from laughing so hard. The point of the lesson stuck with me, though.
Short sentences, concise descriptions, simple vocabulary and short articles may lead you to a Junior High School Reading level, but it also opens your blog (or book) up to a much wider audience who will comprehend the information. I suppose if I had a goal for reading level on my blog, it would probably be junior high school! If I can explain technology I work with to someone who's 15 years old, then someone that's 40 can surely digest it!
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
[Aside from Chapters 15 through 17]…The remainder of the book is disappointing. Hundreds of pages can be summed up in just stating that we can't predict rare events.
Whew! Thank goodness I'm not the only one! This book was painful. No wonder why folks appreciate blogs so much nowadays. I'm not trying to write a New York Times bestseller nor am I trying to impress an Ivy-leaguer. I'm just trying to explain this stuff as simply as I can so that I can share it and you can understand it.
Words I might use to describe The Black Swan: bombastic, chatty, diffuse, discursive, flatulent, gabby, garrulous, inflated, lengthy, long-winded, loquacious, palaverous, pleonastic, prolix, rambling, redundant, rhetorical, tedious, turgid, verbose, voluble, windy. (Thanks Thesaurus.com)
If Taleb had written How to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, my professor might still be working on it – and it's doubtful it would resemble a sandwich at all.
That said, I will be back and taking the critiquer's advice and reading Chapters 15 through 17. And perhaps a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich is in order! As for the reading level analysis, don't pay too much attention… one paragraph inserted from a thesaurus might bump you up a notch. 😉