Some time ago, I came across a post on Google+ by Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse (which is one of my favorite writing tools ever, btw).
She shared The Writer’s Diet Wasteline Test.
This tool will decide whether your writing is ‘flabby or fit’. The Wasteline Test looks at your use of be-verbs, abstract nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs and the use of waste words: is, that, there and then.
What does the test do exactly?
To quote the website:
Based on a simple algorithm, the Wasteline Test™ calculates the
fitness of your writing sample in each of five grammatical categories. The higher the percentage of highlighted words, the
Each of the grammatical categories will be rated with one of the following ratings:
- Lean: fat-free prose
- Fit & trim: in excellent condition
- Needs toning: Would benefit from a light workout
- Flabby: Judicious editing required
- Heart attack: May call for editorial liposuction!
You will also receive an in-depth analysis of your sample. Words that fit in any of the grammatical categories are highlighted with different colors (a color for each category). The use of any of these words isn’t necessarily wrong or bad, you just have to use them sparingly. The creators of the test simply want you to think about how often, why or how you use these words, but you’re not expected to cut all of them or banish them from your writing.
Of course, I had to put this to the test.
I’m working on a sci-fi novel. It has some gore here and there, and I thought these scenes were perfect to see how this tool works.
First thing you do is put your piece of text in the text box. Your sample should be between 100 and 1000 words. You can choose for the “basic” analysis, or the “advanced”. In the advanced analysis, you can make the tool include words inside parentheses and quotation marks, which is something the basic doesn’t do. In the advanced test, you can also exclude certain words should you want to.
I’ll spare you the actual gore, but here were the results for two of my samples.
Sample 1 (601 words)
Sample 2 (237 words)
I was happy when I got my first score – yay, my writing is lean \o/ no need for a diet! It does look like my second piece could use some work, but according to the guidelines, fit and trim means it’s “in excellent condition”, so I’m not too worried.
However, should you get a lower score, no worries, because the test also offers a full diagnosis. You can’t miss it – it’s the bright red button next to the ratings. A PDF with your diagnosis is downloaded automatically after you click it. It will give you some suggestions on how you could improve your grammar and general writing.
If you ever have a scene that makes you feel uncertain about your grammar, just put it to the test.
Had you ever heard of this tool before? If you’ve used it before, do you like it? Why or why not?
I’m curious to the results you get – feel free to share in the comments!