tl;dr: a cunning tool for analysing written text
On the 5th March 2011 The BBC broadcast a series of programmes celebrating World Book Night. Amoung them was the particularly entertaining “The Books We Really Read”, presented by the friskily intelligent Sue Perkins.
I was particularly struck by a comment made by Lee Child, blockbuster author of what is known as ‘genre’ fiction, about ‘literary’ fiction.
I happen to be married to a, frankly, stunning literary fiction author who has just signed a squeelingly fantastic book deal with Bloomsbury. As she explains it (and excuse my clumsy paraphrasing), ‘genre’ fiction is anything that can be slotted neatly into a pigeon hole – ‘thriller’, ‘crime’, ‘romance’, etc.
Literary is all the remaining fiction that refuses to be categorised, like “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen.
Lee Child gave the somewhat grating opinion that ‘literary’ writers are jealous of ‘genre’ writers, because genre writers could, if they so wished, write literary fiction, whereas literary witers can’t write genre. He attributed this to the fact that, while genre writers know big words like anyone else, they are able to choose to use smaller, better words.
This made me wonder if his assertion could be tested in any way and so, standing on the shoulders of giants, I had the cunning folks over at CK-Conception knock up a simple tool to test the readability, and verbiositinessitude, of any text you care to drop into it.
You’ll find the tool here: http://www.ck-conception.com/leechild.php
I hope it proves useful, entertaining, educational, and that maybe it will even go some way to alleviating someone’s hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.