Whose App Can Tell You Where Your Writing is Weak

Ernest Hemingway’s. That’s right – Hemingway. Well, actually it’s an app created by Adam and Ben Long (both brothers and writers), but it’s called Hemingway App.

It’s a quick and easy way to see where your writing needs work. If you read my post a couple months ago on How to Lighten Up Your Writing, you remember I called out what can make your writing feel heavy to readers – junk words, poor tense words, and adverbs.  Well, this app calls them out and then some. Just enter your text, and the app highlights the weak spots based on the following criteria:

  • YELLOW: complex sentences requiring college-level reading skills
  • RED: complex sentences requiring post-college reading skills
  • BLUE: adverbs
  • PURPLE: overly complex words
  • GREEN: passive voice

As you can see, the app calls out adverbs and passive voice for you (two of the things I called out as “heavy writing”) as well as anything you could easily simplify. It’s kind of like the Microsoft Word feature where it tells you the readability score – which it does as well, except it shows you which words are at fault so you can easily fix them.

To try it out, I figure what better test than my write-up on How to Lighten Up Your Writing. So I copied the text, pasted it into the app, and prayed I didn’t make a fool of myself. And what do you know? The majority of highlights showing where the writing was weak are examples I wrote to show what not to do. Not bad. As far as the other words highlighted by the app, I stand by some and left the others to show how easy it is to overlook your own writing.

Keep in mind, the highlighting is based on an algorithm, so don’t swear by it. However, it’s great for doing a last minute read-through – especially when a deadline approaches.

According to the creators, when it came to naming the app, “We automatically thought of Hemingway,” Adam said in an interview with ABC News. “His short, declarative sentences. If you just cut out long words, wordy constructions, it makes the piece much more powerful.”

Truth be told, even Hemingway’s work doesn’t always score well, but I very much agree when it comes to professional writing – simple and concise for the win.