The tests measure different things, but they all work the same way. You answer a batch of questions, press a button, and whammo! You get your test result.
That result might reveal all sorts of fascinating, at times vaguely nonsensical factoids about you such as "What's Your Spirit Flower?", "What Hogwart's House are you" or provide insights on meatier topics such as "Where Am I on a global fat scale?".
Lately I'd been thinking about blogging, about writing, about why people do it and who they are doing it for. It seemed fortuitous when I ran across an opinion piece in the NYT about "Zombie Nouns" by University of Auckland professor, Helen Sword.
Sword writes, "Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings:
The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.
The sentence above contains no fewer than seven nominalizations, each formed from a verb or an adjective. Yet it fails to tell us who is doing what. When we eliminate or reanimate most of the zombie nouns (tendency becomes tend, abstraction becomes abstract) and add a human subject and some active verbs, the sentence springs back to life:
A bit of a postscript at the end of the piece caught my eye. It read in part: "To diagnose your own zombie habits, try pasting a few samples of your prose into the Writer's Diet test. A score of "flabby" or "heart attack" in the noun category indicates that 5 percent or more of your words are nominalizations."
A test! Oh joy! I could take an online test! Based upon my test results I had no doubt I'd be able to turn around whatever flabby writing must be behind the disappointing lack of lively community building going on in my comments section.
Fast as I could I cut and pasted a chunk from a recent blog post and plugged it into the Writer's Diet.
Hey! Ta daaa! Lean! You guys! My writing came back lean. Furthermore, when I downloaded the pdf rendering the "full diagnosis" I was treated to two pages of color coded "Key principles". Sweet!
Now I've got both lean writing and key principles. What? You wouldn't have bothered with the download? Pish tosh. I am dead certain you would be similarly frantic to learn SPECIFICALLY how wonderful that writing sample you provided is. Was. Anyway, back to writing leanly about how lean my writing here is. Was.
If I heed the advice provided under the heart warming caption "No improvements needed"(hold it, I'm going to just sit here with that for a moment, you keep reading...), I will continue to produce "energetic prose". And won't you be grateful? Of course you will. The lean writing you are going to keep finding here will....I don't know.....guarantee your eyes don't get fat? Something. But something leanly.