How Does Reading Level Matter in Fiction?

This is cool.

Kristen Twardowski

How well do most published authors write? Would you be surprised to hear that Jane Austen wrote at just above a 5th grade level, Stephen King writes at about a 6th grade level, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote at slightly more than a 6th grade level, and Leo Tolstoy wrote at about an 8th grade level?

To find out all of this information, Shane Snow did a readability analysis of the works of different bestselling authors. He based his exploration off of their scores for the Flesch-Kincaid tests, which were developed in 1975 on behalf of the US Navy to assess the difficulty of technical manuals. These tests take into account total words, sentences, and syllables in order to assess a written work’s grade level.

Snow’s analysis found that higher level writing did not necessarily result in successful sales. In fact, the bestselling fiction books that he looked at all fell…

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5 Creative Ways to Headline Your Blog Post

breaking-news

They tell you the first sentence draws you in. After that the first paragraph, and then the first page. I believe however that the real first is the title of the blog post itself. While it may not be ultra extremely important, blog titles do carry weight. This is, after all, still the headline of your post when you decide to publish the article, video, quote, or whatever you are publishing today. It is the teaser that will either pull others in or scare them away. Titles are so important that some people will decide not to tune into a blog post at all because they do not agree with whats in the title (which is too bad for them. Didn’t your mothers ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?)

Any who, the more I blog the more I learn. As I watch those with years of experience, I have learned a little about what makes for an acceptable blog post headline. Not only have a learned from watching others, but I’ve learned from paying attention to my own reading habits. Below is a list of the blog post titles that usually catch my attention.

#1. Keep It Simple Short

The blog titles that often catch my attention are those that are short and to the point. It is not a good idea to make your blog post titles too long. If posting a quote, it is also not a good idea to post the entire quote as your title. People get bored easily and do not want to read a paragraph before getting to the actual article. Instead, look at your title as if it were a tweet that must be restricted to 140 characters. Ask yourself what the post is about and what key words are important to include. For instance, whenever I write a post about self-publishing I always include Self-Publishing before the title of the post so that those Indie Authors looking for insight can easily find it. I then follow it up behind what the post is about: Self-Publishing: The Workflow, Self-Publishing: ISBN Numbers for example. Short and sweet titles are also those that don’t take much brain power to decipher. “I Hate Coffee” or “This Dumb Computer” is just as likely to attract attention. Both of these titles leads me to my next bullet point.

#2. Something Catchy!

Blog titles that are creative also catches my attention. This reminds me of a cold open in a movie script. Cold Open is a term screen writers use to indicate that you are coming in on an action scene. It is when you come in smack down in the middle of all the drama. Right when the husband walks in and catches his wife pulling her jeans on next to an unidentified figure in the bed. Its the look on his face when she pauses and scans the room as if an excuse is going to pop up in the corner. It is the camera zooming in on a street fight right at the moment when fist meets chin. Ouch. That is what catchy titles can do for readers. It makes us wonder what the rest of the article is about. For example: “Doctors Are Gods”. From the onset, you have no idea what this blog post is about. You don’t know if I actually believe Doctors are Gods, if this is a poem, or if I’m setting out to criticize the profession. In either event I know that I would want to check this post out! Even if I don’t make it through the article, if your blog post said “Doctors Are Gods” it would be enough to peek my interest and I would click on your blog to see what you’re talking about (or if you actually know what you’re talking about).

#3. Shock and Awe

People, for some reason, love drama. If your blog post is controversial or has the potential to spark a heated debate, try a title that will shock your readers into curiosity. This will guarantee some attention and strangely, the weirder the better! If I saw a post that headlined: “Homosexuals Are Taking Over The World” I’d be headed right on over to see what juicy details the blogger has included and if there is any truth there. This is also an example of a title that some may utterly ignore because it offends them. I wouldn’t worry about that. Of course its offensive, your post is controversial! And yet, lots of people will tune in to see what you have to say. Why? Because people looovveee drama! (Speaking of which, exclamation marks in a blog post title is also a good way to get readers attention!)

#4. Current Events

If your blog post is about current events, news, sports, politics, or celebrity drama, include some of that in your blog post title. The only exception here is that it is more effective if your post on current events is well, current. If you want to spark conversation over the latest news be sure to do it right when the action happens. A blog post about Rachel Dolezal would spark some fire but not merely as much as when the story first broke. Kim Kardashians nudity may be today’s distraction, but next week is a different thing. Still, there is another way to play with this: You can make your post historical in nature. For instance, this year would be the 15th anniversary of 9/11. If your post said: “Remembering 9/11” or “Looking Back: When The Towers Fell” that may attract some attention. But, if you published this post on the anniversary it will attract even more attention. Why? Because its a reminder in people’s minds. They will hear about it all day on CNN and everywhere they go. In fact, 9/11 is such a historical, life changing event that you can just title your post: “9/11” and people will tune in. This is yet another way to play with titles. What’s important to world history? Use it.

#5. Questions

And finally, I have also noticed my curiosity peeked on blog post with titles that ask questions. What better way to get someones attention than to ask them a question? This doesn’t have to mean you are actually looking for answers in the article, but it is another way to spark interest. “Is Orange The New Black?” is a creative spin on a title that doesn’t actually have to have anything to do with the TV show. Maybe its a title about race and ethnicity. Maybe it is about the TV show and has nothing to do with race. Just be creative. (Oh and when writing a post that includes a list, like this one, include that number in your blog post! People love advice: “10 Simple Ways to Clean Your Computer” is likely to get some action. Notice that I went a step further and added “Simple” so that people know this article is not just for the technologically advanced).

Recipe Sunday – Potato and Beef Pie

RS

Its been a minute since we’ve had a Recipe Sunday. For those of you new to the PBS place to be, Recipe Sunday is when I share a fun recipe with you on you guessed it…Sundays. Not just any recipe, but recipes that are specifically designed to be simple for those who are not experts in the kitchen. Cooking is an area I’m not very excited about but I love getting creative and that means recipes. They put me in a cooking mood and give me the motivation I need to get going. After all, I do have a family to feed. Meal preparation is not just important, it is one of the skills I don’t think is taught enough these days.

So anyway, last week I was searching around the house for something to cook. But I was in the mood for something creative. I decided to take regular household foods we often always have in bulk, and try to see what I could do with them. This is good practice for lean days. If for whatever reason a catastrophe ensues, are you capable of creating a meal from the seemingly little things?

I grabbed:

Potatoes, Nacho Cheese, Ground Beef, Pancake Mix, Butter, and Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning (while your at it, go ahead and chop up some Onions and Bell Pepper).

 
What a wide range of stuff huh? What exactly did I make?

 
I call it: Potato and Beef Pie

 
1. In a skillet, season and begin cooking the ground beef.

 
2. While the ground beef is cooking, cut your potatoes into squares, set aside.

 
3. Next, lubricate a baking dish with the butter. Make sure it covers the entire pan on all sides.

 
4. Your ground beef should be done now. Make sure it’s well done. Set Aside.

 
5. Make a pancake batter. (Make sure to add an egg or two). Be sure that it’s a thin mixture. If it’s too thick, add more water or milk but make sure it’s nice and thin.

 
6. Coat the baking dish with the batter. This is your crust. Using pancake mix adds a better flavor to me than regular flour. Plus, this is supposed to be a recipe made up of random foods around the house.

 
7. Heat the Nacho cheese so that it’s nice and smooth

 
8. Layer the dish: Add Ground Beef, Onions and Bell Peppers, Nacho Cheese, and Potatoes

 
9. With the leftover Pancake Batter (you may have to make more), coat the entire dish with the batter. This is your top crust.

 
10. Place this dish in the oven and bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for one hour.

 
Regrettably, I did not take pictures so I cannot show you the end result. But when you take it out of the oven it should be a nice golden brown with delicious goodies tucked on the inside. You should be able to slice into squares or triangles or whatever shape and eat like a pie. The cheese provides just enough moisture for it not to be dry and the beef provides just enough meat to be filling. It was delicious.

 
This is an easy and efficient meal that even the kids will love. A vegetarian version can be made also. Just substitute the ground beef with ground Mung Bean, a good meat substitute.

“Don’t be stupid”

I have one simple message for you today: “Don’t be stupid”.
What I mean is, don’t be foolish. Some of us are so “overtly intelligent” that we are unable to appreciate the little things, and the simplest of manners shoot past us like a bullet. We may know the intimate details of Pythagorean’s Theorem, but we are unable to comprehend something has simple as the music in the trees or the praise coming from the lips of birds. We’ll philosophy on evolution and even teach this in our schools and at the same time admit it’s just a theory. Yet, we’re unable to understand “in the beginning”. And despite how many times we wake in the mornings…the number of times the Almighty Yah allows the sun to dance once more in our faces…despite how many times we feel the wind on our backs I’m convinced, that because man will never know how to count his breaths, he will always be too stupid to count his blessings.