Medieval philosopher William of Occam taught a logical problem-solving principle which came to be known as Occam’s Razor (forerunner of KISS – keep it simple, stupid). The concept: simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones.
As blog content writers, we ought to get Occam’s message, learning to apply a “razor” to our own creations. “All writers should do a bit of counting words and sentences and revise their writing for the sake of their readers,” writes Nirmaldasan, explaining the Simplicity Score of business writing.
The Simplicity Score is based on the idea that the average sentence length is the best indicator of text difficulty, and it is measured by the number of complete sentences is a sample of 35 words. The SS may vary on a five-point scale, with 0 being very hard, and 4+ being very easy. If our writing measures up to this standard, in ten sentences there will be about 170 words.
In her blog post The Wild and Crazy Guide to Writing Sentences, Michele Russell posits that at the heart of the craft of blogging is one very basic ability: writing good sentences. Imagine your sentences as links in a chain, Russell advises. “The stronger you can make each one, and the more tightly you can connect it to the ones on either side, the more powerful your writing will be.”
The WordPress Readability Analysis measures both sentence length and paragraph length, while the Flesch reading-ease test is based on the ratio of total words to total sentences, plus total syllables to total words.
Too much counting and measuring? Not really, William Strunk says in The Elements of Style. “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts,” Strunk explains.
While the Occam’s Razor Simplicity Score can help us keep our blog writing simple, we must also keep it interesting, Michele Russell reminds us. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of making most of your sentences similar in length, but the steady rhythm can lull readers to sleep. Use short sentences, Russell suggests, to “add a percussive bite” and keep your audience on its toes. You use the longer ones to explain things in more detail. Varying the rhythm keeps readers guessing, she says.
It seems we blog content writers must learn to count sentences, words, and even syllables, but to avoid becoming formulaic, we need to do it in “syncopated time”!