The test works by counting percentages of words in five categories commonly associated with stodgy sentences: weak verbs, abstract nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs and 'waste words' (it, this, that, there). For every writing sample you submit, you will receive an overall fitness rating ranging from lean to heart attack territory:My initial thought? Brills!
Lean Fat-free Fit and trim In excellent condition Needs toning Would benefit from a light workout Flabby Judicious editing required Heart attack territory May call for editorial liposuction!
But then fear set in.
What if I took the test and it spat back horrific results to me? Like that my writing was morbidly obese and destined for a life lived on treadmills and jogging trails in the backwoods of scary places, where scary people hang out cooking meth and living out of trash bag tents? If that was the truth, did I really want to know? Or was I better off blissfully oblivious and semi-delusional about my writing abilities?
Then again, now that I'd seen this Waistline Test how could I not take it? It would be like not pushing the button on that Mr. Bubbles contraption filled with bleach in my friend's shower back when it was a new product and I figured it was filled with body wash, thus giving the whole shower experience as we know it a contemporary, car wash-esque feel. "How modern!" I thought in glee, after pushing the button and allowing "body wash" to whir past me, till I screamed out in realization that it wasn't actually a Jetsons shower machine but rather a cleaning device that was shooting bleach into my face and mouth. Yeah, seeing the Waistline Test was kind of like that, except now I tread with minor trepidation when I'm about to push any buttons.
Was my ego writing checks my body couldn't cash? I needed to know, so I took the test, shielded my face with my hands and peered through my fingers at the results and ... I passed!!! Quite nicely, I should add. I pasted in the first couple paragraphs from my book and got back:
fit and trim.
For whatever this particular writing test is worth, all I have to say is PHEW. At this point in the month I don't think I have the emotional stamina to endure a reading of "flabby", much less anything that would call for editorial liposuction.
Now for all I know this test could be a crock of monkey poop, and I know there are other things that matter in good writing (i.e., expression, fluidity, clarity, etc.) but I do think it's an interesting way to assess overuse of adverbs and other evils that tend to weigh writing down like an anchor. See how your writing measures up, if you're curious.
In other news: Lauren Bacall is on Twitter(!), which is basically just as amazing as hearing someone like Grace Kelly or Joan Crawford pontificate on how tacky Hollywood (and the world in general) has become and how much better it was "back then", when everyone
Here are my fave LB tweets:
"Yes I saw Twilight my granddaughter made me watch it, she said it was the greatest vampire film ever. After the "film" was over I wanted to smack her across her head with my shoe, but I do not want a book called Grannie Dearest written on me when I die, so instead I gave her a DVD of Murnau's 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu and told her, now that's a vampire film! and that goes for all of you! watch Nosferatu instead!"Lauren Bacall is the woman I want to grow up to be. "Literate and tart" were the words Roger Ebert recently used to describe her. She's a beautiful, no-nonsense woman who's been around long enough to know what timeless chic really is and could care less about what you and I think of her musings because she's right, after all. I can just imagine her lazing in some huge claw-footed bathtub in one of the many master bathrooms of her gigantic estate, tapping away with manicured red fingernails on a laptop picked out for her by some tech-savvy personal assistant. Like a modern-day Norma Desmond with a platform to reach the masses she lazes beneath her blanket of white bubbles, plumes of cigarette smoke curling around her head, as she tweets about the good old days when film meant something. When fashion mean something.
"Enough of me being a negative Nancy, its just that I am glad I got to see the Oscars of the 40s & 50s. Grace Kelly would have died if she saw what I did at the red carpet (a tattooed gum chewing woman with too much cleavage and a man in sneakers)."------------------------
"I'm so sorry you guys didn't like my Studio 54 image simply because I was smoking, believe me there was far more worse things going on there then smoking! I was not expecting such negative feedback, ugh all this stress has made me want to light up and relax with a cigarette. The good thing about being 84 is that I can smoke as much as I want."
When a good vampire movie meant something...