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Increasing Text Complexity - Flesch-Kincaid

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Usually I'm seeking to make my texts less complex/more easily readable. And I've discovered some ways to do that. But this time, I need to increase my text's complexity.


Besides lengthening sentences and replacing few-syllable words with many-syllable words, what can I do? I've looked online but didn't find anything.


My publisher requires I use Microsoft's Flesch-Kincaid tool.


Thanks for your thoughts!


Jody
#1 - May 19, 2014, 07:28 AM
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Wow, Jody, what an unusual predicament! I would do what you already suggested. Plus, you might want to see if Microsoft's Flesch-Kincaid considers hyphenations, such as compound modifiers, as one or two words. If one, maybe rephrase without the hyphenation so both words count. Good luck!
#2 - May 19, 2014, 08:11 AM
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I agree that it's an odd request. I know what you mean. I've spent years trying to make my style simple and clear.

Make it more detailed and add more complex ideas. Here's the analyzer I use:

http://sarahktyler.com/code/sample.php

It's the difference between.

"It took days for the panda to become used to his new home at the zoo." (third grade level).

And this:

"Lan-Lan had often reacted fearfully to unfamiliar environments and situations. After completing a routine quarantine period, he was introduced to the other pandas." (tenth grade level)
#3 - May 19, 2014, 08:13 AM
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 08:16 AM by Betsy »
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This is a tough one. I'd also do what you are already doing. Unfortunately, the program doesn't know the difference between a tenth grade one syllable word and a third grade one. You might increase the number of sentences per paragraph too. I know it measured that, but I'm not sure if it counts that in its computations.

Good luck.
#4 - May 19, 2014, 09:04 AM
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 06:54 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
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Use of foreign terms and even foreign proper names will increase the rating. When I wrote a story and then changed the names to all-American ones (just using a FIND and REPLACE function) my so-called grade level level dropped two grades...
Most of the time we aim to do the opposite. But I thought I'd mention this.
#5 - May 19, 2014, 09:47 AM
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Here's the highly amusing formula:
Flesch-Kincaid = 206.835 ? (1.015 * (total words/total sentences)) - (84.6 (total syllables/total words)).
In other words, to increase the complexity, you either need to have more words per sentence and/or more syllables per word. Laurie
#6 - May 19, 2014, 10:35 AM
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Thanks, everyone.


Betsy, that link was interesting. When I pasted in my sample, I got a lower FK than just having Microsoft Word check it. Yikes!


My new mantra: Yes, I can make my text wordy. Yes, I can use big words.  :grin3
#7 - May 19, 2014, 11:08 AM
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I don't think it's 100% accurate. I don't think any of them are 100% accurate. But maybe it's the concept of a definite grade level that's the problem.
#8 - May 19, 2014, 12:19 PM
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 01:12 PM by Betsy »
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I was going to suggest more complex vocabulary and longer sentences with more complex structures (using clauses, etc.), but I'm not sure if this would help or not.
#9 - May 19, 2014, 01:04 PM
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Proper nouns will also kick up your FK, so if you can include the name of a country, a town, whatever, that will help.
#10 - May 19, 2014, 01:18 PM
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Yeah, I know, Betsy. There doesn't seem to be a clear answer.


Yes, KatyD, clauses do help.


Hmm, Jan. I'll have to see if I can slip one in.


I'm up to 4.4 now from 2.2. Woot!
#11 - May 19, 2014, 01:47 PM
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I sympathize. Words you would never suspect bump up scores. I've had leveling tools flag 'moon' and 'wall' for K-2 but take 'earth' and 'door'. Keep playing with word substitutions, especially highly specific nouns and more verbs.
#12 - May 20, 2014, 07:54 AM
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LOL Jody. I'm coming late to this thread but I'd submitted an article for a test passage (3rd grade) and they used it. Later, they wanted it for high school. Of course, I rewrote the whole thing, but I had to put on my ole-PhD hat and use those fancy $10 words ... and honestly, with all those big words, long sentences and subordinate clauses, the article sounded more authoritative.

Isn't it funny how we try so hard to make things simpler, but sometimes we have to go in the opposite direction. It makes you wonder, what are they actually testing?

My son was writing a paper about a minor character in Hamlet and asked me to read it. I said it sounds really academic. My husband piped up, "that's not necessarily a compliment." Hehe ...

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#13 - May 20, 2014, 09:45 AM
« Last Edit: May 20, 2014, 11:14 AM by Vijaya »
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Cyndy, Go figure.  :meditate


Vijaya, this has been an interesting exercise, and I can see where using clauses and varying sentence structure has appeal for older readers. I'm so used to writing young these days.
#14 - May 20, 2014, 10:17 AM
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Here's another thread in which both Betsy and Jody are commenting and I get so confused as I follow the conversation. One of you is going to have to change your profile picture.  :bewildered:
#15 - May 20, 2014, 02:39 PM

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Anything for you, Brian.  :flower
#16 - May 21, 2014, 04:36 AM
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This is a fun site to get a variety of measurements -- I like to plug in texts, including my own, and see what they show up as. My MG work is clearly at a lower reading level than my YA books, which was a relief.
https://readability-score.com/
Here are some notable texts -- with the Flesch-Kincaid reading ease level and grade levels:
James Patterson's I Funny 91/2.6
Counting by 7s 86.9/4.5
Great Expectations 78.5/6.6
The Fault in Our Stars 65.6/9.3
Moby Dick 63.4/10.8
Lolita 51.7/12.7
James Fenimore Cooper's The Pathfinder (which was required reading for me in 8th grade??) 42/17.9
So that should give you some good ideas on how to move up and down the scale!
#17 - May 21, 2014, 01:50 PM
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That's a great tool, LT. Thanks for sharing.
#18 - May 21, 2014, 04:40 PM
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I was just kidding Jody, but I really like bearded dragons  :thankyou
#19 - May 21, 2014, 08:53 PM

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LT, thanks for the readability-score.com link.  In a manuscript comparison I just did, this came up with just a one month difference between it and just running the FK check through my spell checker.  Jody, you've posed an interesting dilemma that's got us all thinking now. How much higher does the reading level need to go??

#20 - May 21, 2014, 09:32 PM
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It's been a fun discussion, even if Brian did get Betsy and me confused.  :haha  I'm done now, Bobi, and have turned it in.



#21 - May 22, 2014, 04:36 AM
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