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I came across this clever (and instant) writing diagnostic by way of my friend, Don Lafferty, from Jonathan Maberry's Writer's Coffeehouse Yahoo group. 

It's by Helen Sword, and seems to be something she set up to help promote her book, The Writer's Diet.  You cut and paste up to about a thousand words of writing into the box, hit 'Run the test' and within a few moments you get a fitness report, telling you if you might have overegged the literary pudding with too many 'be' verbs; abstract nouns; prepositions etc. 
It's a lot of fun.  I tested my latest thousand-word flash, A LITTLE RETRIBUTION FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, on it and was pleased to find that I'm a lean mean writing machine...type...thing. 

Now, if I could only get the Wii Fit to agree, I'd be well chuffed. 

If you decide to give it a go, let me know how you get on.

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( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
Sep. 15th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
Forgiving is good. I've got Bill 'Mingin the Merciless' in my critique group so I need all the forgiving I can get :)
Sep. 15th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
Took it, twice, and I think it's extremely inaccurate. Just my two cents!

A good way to get discouraged, though, if that's required!
Sep. 15th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's just a bit of fun :)
(no subject) - mary_j_59 - Sep. 16th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is cool. Thanks for sharing, Jon. I'll be using this to check my stuff.

I got fit and trim, with a bit of too many prepositions.
Sep. 15th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
My pleasure, Sophy :)
Sep. 15th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
I got a "lean" on everything except prepoisitions, which was "fit & trim." This makes me sad since I need to cut 13k words from my ms. If I had a few heart attack categories, at least I'd know there were words to delete!
Sep. 15th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Ouch, 13K? That calls for some big pruners :)
Sep. 15th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC)
When I entered my sample it said "I wrote like J.K. Rowling!"

Just kidding.

Interesting link though, thanks :)

For the snippet I uploaded, I received lean on everything except prepositions which it said "needs toning". Since, most of the people commenting received lean, I'm not sure how accurate the test is.

However, the most useful thing I noticed was that it highlighted each item in a different color. This was by far and away much more important than the comments on whether the writing is fit and trim, lean, etc. because it shows the writer exactly what it's talking about which will enable them to search out those things for themselves and thus be a window into what to look for in order to strengthen their work.

It would be an interesting addition to a word processing program if a writer could search out individual (or even group diagnostics--I just don't like the rainbow effect) weaknesses in their writing and have them highlighted in such a way.

Sep. 16th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
I think that would take some serious programming time.
Sep. 15th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
LOL, cool. I got "Overall, your writing sample is fit and trim"

I did the second Doc story. Thanksf or sharing.
Sep. 16th, 2010 12:25 pm (UTC)
My pleasure, Julie :)
Sep. 16th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Whoot, I got overall your writing is fit and trim!
Sep. 16th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
Excellent! :)
Sep. 16th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
A fun little gadget. Like most of the other commenters, I got a "lean" result. Anything that makes you take another look at your writing from a different perspective is helpful, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing this!
Sep. 16th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
My pleasure, Kathy :)
Sep. 16th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
It expressed concern that there were a few too many this and thats
and be-verbs in "The Nothing That Is"
but seemed quite happy with it as far at the other three categories
were concerned.

I think we've all noticed that movies in general
have been formulaic to the point of feeling
I'm very much concerned that diagnostics of this sort
with have an identical effect on writing.
Everyone will be cranking out utter perfection,
but only in terms of conforming with arbitrary criteria.
Like Chinese drywall, it will pass inspection,
but ultimately prove highly toxic.
Sep. 16th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
If folks are happy with the way they write, there's no reason to change, but I imagine if someone's been pitching short stories without success and never getting feedback in rejection letters, this might be useful.

That said, I don't think it's something to take too seriously. Just a bit of fun and, perhaps, something to make us think about the types of words we use.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Sep. 16th, 2010 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
My writing came up lean too. :)

WhooHoo! Hard work pays off!
Sep. 16th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yay! :)
Sep. 16th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
I tested several samples. My score was Lean & all categories received Lean except "Be" words fluctuated between Lean & Fit&Trim. Which doesn't surprise me - passive voice has always been my bane. I can see the difference when given examples but am incapable of fixing them on my own. *sigh*

But a really fun & fascinating tool. I'm bookmarking that for future use!

Sep. 16th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you found it useful, Kat :)
Sep. 25th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Fit and trim, yay!

Be-verbs and it, this, that there need tonig, it say but the rest is lean. Which is pretty much quite fantastic as English isn't my first language and I am never really sure how well I can write in it.
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