A literary agent turned me on to this handy writing tool. It’s called the Writer’s Diet and what it does is pretty cool. You cut and paste whatever sample of writing you want into the box and it analyzes it for superfluous verbs, pronouns, etc. They then give you a report which shows if your writing is “Lean” (meaning good) or “Heart attack territory” (meaning bad). You’ll be hooked after one try. I’ll put the links at the end of the post.
I must admit the Writer’s Diet is a great way to look at something like your query letter in a different light. I’ve been playing with it for about a day now and I’m in love. The results for my latest query letter were “Flabby” for too many verbal verbs. So I tinkered, nitpicked, and re-phrased. On the next try I was down to “Needs Toning”. I couldn’t stop there. After reworking the main paragraph of my query, I finally got down to lean. Victory! Now my query is lean and sexy. Watch out agents!
What the Writer’s Diet can do for you. Everything dealing with writing should be taken with a grain of salt. I realize what I find helpful may not be helpful to the next writer. The Writer’s Diet is by no means a guideline to write by, nor does it claim to be. It’s a tool to help analyze your writing. You may not know you have too many verbal verbs in a paragraph, like I did. Too many verbal verbs can weaken your writing and literary professionals can pick up on it. I wouldn’t write my manuscript using this, but it does come in handy for queries, or any other small piece of writing. If you’re looking to strengthen your writing, whether it’s the first page of your manuscript, query letter, or synopsis, The Writer’s Diet can help. Just knowing your query is lean is a confidence boost too. The actual content is a different matter…
Literary agent, Rachel Stout, of Dystel and Goderich, said she ran some of the queries from her slush pile through the test and not surprisingly, the ones she liked came up lean while the ones she didn’t like came up flabby. I’m not saying the Writer’s Diet is the holy grail that will get you signed by an agent, but if it can help get your query lean and mean, you should definitely consider it. And besides, it’s fun. Who doesn’t want to have a little bit of fun? Here’s the link to Rachel’s post.
Here is the link for the Writer’s Diet.
Play around with the test and let me know what you think. Was it helpful, or a waste of time?