Now, for the first time since its publication by a small New Zealand press in 2007, The Writer’s Diet is available internationally in print and electronic editions through all good bookstores and online retailers. In celebration of the launch, the University of Chicago Press is offering a 15% discount to subscribers of my quarterly e-newsletter, which you can sign up for by entering your name and email address at the bottom of this page.
So you’ve written a philosophy essay, you’ve referenced Derrida a fair bit, you quote from other scholars, and your topic is post-structuralist feminism. The WritersDiet Test is probably not going to be kind to you. Your work is loaded with zombie nouns (post-structuralism and feminism, for a start) and other people’s words – which, however flabby they may be, you cannot change.
Luckily, there is help at hand. By using the Advanced tab, you can exclude specified words or phrases from being counted when you run the test:
People sometimes write to tell me what’s wrong with the WritersDiet Test. Good writing cannot possibly be reduced to a numerical formula, they protest. Nor can an electronic tool be trusted to make judgments about a matter as complex and subjective as style.
I couldn’t agree more.
That’s why WritersDiet Test makes no attempt to measure for vividness of expression, clarity of thought, fluidity of style, or any of the other factors that matter most in engaging writing. The purpose of the test is modest: to alert writers to some of the sentence-level grammatical features that most frequently weigh down academic prose. more »
Welcome to the new Writer’s Diet website! The site has been “re-skinned” to match the visual design of the book, which has just been published by Auckland University Press in a snazzy new edition.
The WritersDiet Test has remained substantially unchanged, aside from some adjustments to the colors and visual design. The website, however, boasts a number of new features – most notably this blog. You’ll also find a list of key Writer’s Diet principles, short answers to frequently asked questions, and links to a new Writer’s Diet Facebook page and Twitter feed. more »
It’s pretty simple, actually – so simple, in fact, that you can perform the test manually if you prefer to go low-tech. Just gather together five colored highlighters (preferably orange, blue, green, yellow, and pink) and use the scoring charts at the back of the book to calculate your scores.
In a nutshell, the online test identifies words in each of five grammatical categories: nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs, and a grab-bag category unscientifically dubbed “waste words” (it, this, that, there). The higher the percentage of highlighted words in each category, the “flabbier” your diagnosis. more »