Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: read

Readability ~ Can Your Readers Understand You?

Whether you write novels, scientific articles, literary essays, or blogs (and, perhaps it’s not too optimistic to include legal explanations…) your reader needs to understand the writing; otherwise, there’s poor commune-ication.

Yeah, I sort of misspelled the last word in that sentence but the roots of communication tell the story: “to make common”.

You may have tried various Readability Tools but I found one that gives six results from different schemes of measurement.

David Simpson, Senior Developer and Solutions Architect at AppFusions, created The Readability Test Tool that lets you enter text manually or enter a url to test a web page.

I put the first scene of my novel in (you can get a free copy in the left side-bar) and got my six scores—not bad results for automated methods :-)

And, since I like to experiment on this blog, I’ll put that scene from my book here and show the scores after it—I suppose the experiment is for you to gauge the scene’s readability for yourself and compare your impressions with the site’s results
He was ready to go but delayed slipping the bonds for a moment as he bid farewell in his mind to the daughter he’d never met. He knew his work for the Angan Corporation was critical―he was the leader of the first expedition to another World; but, Velu, his unknown daughter, would probably not know he’d done it.

“Rednaxela”, said his Artificial Intelligence unit from its space on the console, “we are fourteen seconds past the time set for slipping the magnetic bonds.”

“Yes, Morna, my dearest AI, I know; bidding farewell to folks in my mind.”

“The part of your mind I will not let myself access.”

“Yes, Morna, the only part of myself that’s still private.”

“Twenty-five seconds past bond-slipping.”

“Initiate, Morna.”

The two-mile-wide, circular ship released its invisible hold on the mooring dock and began its 2,800,000-mile voyage to the planet next out from Anga in the Angi System―planet of mystery, inhabited by people completely engrossed in religion―Anla, the destination of Rednaxela, his thoughts, and 95,000 passengers.

Morna continued verbalizing her obligatory oversight tasks: “Plasma screen active, passengers secure, orbital laser supplying thrust, tethered laser stable, light-sail stable, ship systems nominal.”

ShipOne it was called: a simple, efficient name that Rednaxela did not like. Something more was called for, some larger idea―Proteus, Primus, something; even Rugra-One, its Class name. He strode to the hatch leading to the transport tube as he said, “Morna, I’m going to check on our prize passenger.”

“Only place worth going on a ship full of criminals.”

“Settlers, Morna, settlers.”

“Yes, criminal-settlers.”

“It’s a good thing you’re my AI and not a child of the Corporate Mesh.”

“It’s a good thing we have plasma shielding from the Corporate Mesh.”

The arrangement was completely unique but absolutely necessary. The Mesh, corporate or public, operated through electronics that were capable of responding to the streams of plasma surrounding and interpenetrating Anga. The Mesh was the Corporation’s mode of communication and control and it was critical to the planet’s efficient operation. Yet, this voyage, made when Anga and Anla were closest in their orbits, had to be flown through the plasma tail that Anga streamed away from its star. The plasma tail reached to Anla and beyond and, because of the closeness of the planets, it was a tail that could clearly carry the thoughts and feelings of every passenger into the minds of the priests on Anla, priests who were expecting merely settlers, not criminals. To be more precise, they were not expecting any criminals except Akla who Rednaxela was on his way to see.

“Morna, the shielding is to keep the Anlans from—”


He’d never heard her raise her voice.

“Do please continue, my sweet AI.”

“I know why the Corporation chose you but they didn’t take enough time to analyze the results of our interaction.”

“Morna, what the hell are you talking about?”

“You are the Corporation’s ambassador but I think you could also be their worst nightmare.”

“Morna, I wish you had an off switch. Look, we’ll talk about your speculations later. I need to go perform my duty as an interrogator.”

Rednaxela stepped over the sill of the hatch but stepped right back into the bridge. He walked up to the AI’s physical form―a box of exotic, plasma-infused electronics―and said: “What do you make of the Anlans’ specifically asking for Akla?”

“He is believed by the Harians of Anga to be a Prophet and a sect on Anla called the Nari claim the same thing. The Nari have apparently been waiting for him to arrive from Anga.”

“You have a bad habit of repeating what you know I already know, Morna.”

“Sometimes I feel it necessary.”

“It’s going to take the whole voyage for me to figure you out.”

“I believe it will take longer than that.”

“Could be, but the leadership on Anla apparently hate the Nari.”


“Asking for a man their enemies worship…”

Morna laughed in his mind and said, “There are obvious reasons and not so obvious reasons. All I will say now is that you were chosen for your unique abilities and your devotion to the Corporation. I think your devotion will be severely tested and your abilities will be sharply honed. Please don’t ask me for reasons yet, I’m still processing the probabilities.”

“I’m still trying to fathom the rush to launch this mission. They could have given us more time to really get acquainted and for me to figure out how you can make deductions on information in my head that I don’t even know I have.”

“There are overriding reasons for the Corporation’s haste, mostly to do with fear. And, there are times when an individual has potentials the Corporation needs and special procedures must be devised. I am a Special Procedure.”

“That you are, Morna. Thankfully, you can still attend to the ship while you’re haunting my mind. Let’s see how our prize criminal is doing.”
Was it somewhat or extremely readable for you?

In the site’s results Green is pretty good and yellow is somewhat ok—at least there was no Red :-)

There are more detailed explanations of results on the site

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Are Readers The Winners In The New Publishing Game?

It’s been said that the transformation going on in publishing is making clear that the only “necessary” participants in the Book-World are the author and the reader.

What do you think?

Will we one day have molded technology to our needs so perfectly that the writer can easily transfer their creations to readers who can easily find exactly what they want?

In a previous post, What Do Readers Really Want . . . ?, there was a survey about readers’ desires.

In the post, Getting Published Is Easy ~ Getting Readers Is Hard Work, some of the issues of writers finding readers was explored.

In the post, Genre Reconsidered ~ Reader-Driven Fiction, among other stimulating questions, these two were asked:

“Should more readers demand that authors forget about genre and write what the unique combination of theme, plot, and character demands of their creativity?”

“Is it conceivable that the reading public could select books based on plot characteristics or character interactions or theme arcs?”

I’ve also written about how I’m a maverick author in the way I find my readers

I do believe that, eventually, readers will have an exceedingly easy time in finding exactly what they desire; and, that they will become the primary “gatekeepers” in the Book-World.

There are already a number of initiatives to help the reader gain more control.

One of the most important is GoodReads.

I want to close this post out with some reassurance for readers that they are a critical and Necessary partner in the fast-changing arena of the Book-World by quoting from an article on Information Today, Inc.:

“Goodreads mission is ‘to help people find and share books they love. Along the way, we plan to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world’. An interesting, collaborative model, Goodreads supports core needs and interests of both readers and their authors—as well as the supportive system that supports them (bookstores, libraries, schools, publishers). “Reading may be a solitary activity,” [Goodread’s founder and CEO, Otis] Chandler notes. “But what you’re reading and what you think of what you’re reading are ideas. And ideas are much better if they’re shared.”

“Author and blogger John Corwin notes that ‘while Twitter, Facebook, G+ and the other social networks offer you a way to reach the masses (some of whom have questionable literary interests), Goodreads has already filtered out the weeds and offers you some of the most voracious readers on the planet.’”
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What Do Readers Really Want . . . ?

Apart from my fiction, I write about writing, itself, as well as publishing and reading.

If we want to be realistic about those three roles, reading is the most primary, with writing rendering what’s read, and publishing smack in the middle.

So, it would seem that surveying readers would be a major concern of writers and publishers.

Do you think it is?

I try to maintain a balance among those three roles in this blog and, since I’ve been writing about publishing the last few days, here are a few posts about readers I feel are important: Genre Reconsidered ~ Reader-Driven Fiction, How Can Authors Find Readers?, and It’s Simple. They’re Gone Reading :-)

I want to make this post and its comments into a survey. We’ll use a list from an article on BookRiot called, The 7 Things Readers Want from Publishing.

Help me out. Find the things on the list that you as a reader want and put the numbers in a comment. If you want to add other things you want not on the list, great! And, if you want to add your reasons for the things you want as a reader, wonderful :-)

1. “Readers want there to be choice: romance, technical manuals, memoir, children’s, fantasy, thriller, literary fiction and on and on.”

2. “Not only do readers want choice, but they also want those choices to be good.”

3. “Readers want reading to be affordable.”

4. “Readers want to be able to find things they are interested in. This means both genres they are already familiar with and exploration.”

5. “Readers want to be able to get something to read as easily as possible.”

6. “Readers want to enjoy the experience both of reading books and of purchasing them.”

7. “Readers want reading to fit into their lives easily.”

Looking forward to what you think………
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More Writing Resources Than You’ll Ever Need Plus One Huge Tip

I’ve been writing “on-purpose” for about 20 years—didn’t begin serious writing till I was 42.

I feel there are many serious readers (those who “work” at reading, not the folks who use books “only” to “escape”) and many serious readers should consider being writers.

If you haven’t yet developed your writing-soul to the point where you Have to write, you may need to read more about writing…

But, if you read enough and have an intelligent and compassionate editor, you just might be able to avoid consulting long lists of writing resources.

Listen to Steven King in this short video—it just may be the most important thing you’ve ever heard about writing

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Who Tells You What To Read?

“Nobody tells me what to read. I make my own decisions.”

Sure, so do I, but how do I know about the books so I can choose from the selection?

Of course, the traditional production of books has agents, editors, and marketing folks making decisions before you get a selection of books from which to choose.

And now, there are also self-published authors being enabled to add to the possible choices

So, who “helps” you decide what to read?


Bookstore clerks?

WebSite writers?

Social Media?

Just you, prowling the swiftly-vanishing bookstores?

How about Amazon?

And, how about Amazon eliminating the agents, editors, and marketing folks?

In a recent article in the The New York Times, Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of Deal, we have this:

“’Everyone’s afraid of Amazon’, said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. ‘If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.'”

From Dystel & Goderich, a literary agency, in their article, “Moneyball, Amazon and the end of publishing as we know it”, we have:

“In this week’s death watch, the publishing business is going the way of the Edsel.  E-books have won.  Traditional publishers don’t know what to do with themselves or their lists.

“Agents are unnecessary.  Anarchy reigns among authors.   And, oh, yeah, Amazon is getting closer to world domination (tricky bastards).  There is no leadership.  The darkness is encroaching.  The center cannot hold!”

And, in an article from The Atlantic, What Would Happen if Amazon Ruled Publishing?, we have:

“When one company holds the keys to the kingdom for what content consumers can see on its device, it has a lot of power as to what kind of information reaches people. For example, Apple can kill off an app that criticizes Apple. If Amazon consolidates its power in the publishing industry, what would become of a book criticizing Amazon?”


Is it going to be Amazon (plus a possible few other, smaller giants) “keeping the gate” between the Author and Reader?

I imagine, even with the outlandish success of ebooks, Amazon would still publish ink on paper Maybe?

What are your thoughts and feelings??
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