Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dark Side

I really have to giggle about the 'dark side' comment on yesterday's post. My writing buddy was quite put out. She wondered why I didn't mention the 10,000 'light side' comments she'd made. Excuse me. Didn't I say I have a 'dark side' problem!

Well, today was a dark side anyhow. I started writing my first chapter book ever - target audience is 7, 8, and 9 yr olds. About third grade level. I googled and found a couple sites for research. One suggested I use the MS Word Readability Stats under the Spellchecker. 

I pulled up the 'new' book - 'Dog For Hire' - and discovered that the book, so far, is labeled as a Grade Level 3.2. I was pretty happy about that. Hit the target audience right on the nose.


I pulled up 'Nothing But Blue Skies.' I had hoped, when I began writing this, that it would be an Edgy YA. Things changed and it became, I hoped, an Upper Middle Grade book. No. Not according to this 'tool' from MS. 'Blue' showed up as Grade Level 3.2. Go figure!

Okay - is this a coincidence? Both books at a 3.2 level? I pulled up my children's PB - it came up as a 3.3. Hmmm...... I pulled up my Adult Sci-Fi. You guessed it - 3.2. I'm beginning to wonder if there is a glitch in the system. 

I pulled up my synopsis for 'Blue' and it comes back as a 7.1. That destroys all theories of faulty software.

Needless to say, things got quite dark here in Cleveland, Ohio and it was sun-shiny bright outside. I looked at 'Blue,' trying to figure out what on earth was 'wrong' with it. I don't know. The sentences per paragraph are short because I like short paragraphs. But the vocabulary is good (I kind of pride myself on my vocabulary's range). The computer can't 'see' the plot or the characters - it only goes by the sentences and vocabulary. The sentence structure is good. I even use a semi-colon now and again. *g*

I was going to go back and redo the whole of 'Nothing But Blue Skies' - all the while filled with sadness at the work before me. 

BUT - I decided to look at chapter one. Ch. one has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb. It can't be any better. As I perused the chapter, I saw good sentence structure, good vocabulary, and an excellent (if I may say so myself) plot.  Only got a 3.2. Okay. It's not me - it's the program. *g*

I put up a question/post at the SCBWI LinkedIn group, but nobody has responded. I think I'll just figure MS doesn't quite have the software down pat. I'm not going to go back and change 'Blue.' 

I finished the synopsis with the changes/suggestions from my editor and my writing classmates. It's time to bite the bullet and start sending out requests for representation by a literary agency. Wish me luck.

Life is interesting. 


  1. I would never trust a program like Word to make a judgement like that, any more than I let it tell me what my grammar should be. It doesn't always know what is write because it doesn't know what I want. I think it's much safer to trust yourself because you DO know what is good and what isn't, and what your intentions are. I suppose that program is part of Word for a reason, but it's not a person, it's not a reader, and it just doesn't know some things.

    Just for fun, I put in a couple of my LoG chapters, seems they are at about a 6th grade level.... Not sure what I think about that! :-)

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  3. Thanks, Margaret. You had me rolling about LoG. I would have thought your pieces were at least Sophomore or Junior in High School. (Psst - you wrote 'write' instead of 'right.' I'm surprised the blog police didn't ring their alarm bells.) giggle giggle snort snort Miss you to pieces.