Readability Score

What’s Your Readability Score?

Do You Know Your Novels Readability Score?

Readability score is super important. You might not see it, but your audience knows as soon as they pick up your book if it is at their reading level or not. As a writer, a new age demographic can be rough terrain to explore. So knowing if you are talking over your audiences head can be very useful. So don’t shrug this off or it can be very disastrous.

What is a Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score?

Simply put, a formula created in the late 1940’s as a way to calculate the readability of a block of text. A score that will then allow you to determine what level of education a person needs in order to read your writing with ease.

The Most Common Readability Scores Are Those Between 1 and 100. For Example:

ScoreGrading LevelReadability
100.00-90.005th GradeVery easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
90.0–80.06th GradeEasy to read. Conversational English for consumers.
80.0–70.07th GradeFairly easy to read.
70.0–60.0 8th - 9th GradePlain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.
60.0–50.0 10th - 12th GradeFairly difficult to read.
50.0–30.0 CollegeDifficult to read.
30.0–0.0College GraduateVery difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.

You should now see why this is important. Unfortunately, it is overlooked by many writers.
Want to know a little more about the reading leveling you are writing in? Below are some standard guidelines from the different reading levels in fiction.

Readability Score #1 Middle Grade

For middle grade, you should shoot between a readability score of 100.00 – 80.00. The average reader for middle-grade books is about 11 years old.

Other characteristics to consider when writing in the middle grade reading range.
Voice/Theme: It’s all about the adventure baby. These kids want something spectacular. They haven’t hit puberty yet, they don’t want to handle real-life problems. There is a sweet spot to include some “mushy” real life problems in there, but if you use that as a theme device, you will be golden.
Characters: This goes without saying, but keep your characters around the same age as your readers. I would actually suggest keeping your character age a little higher(age 12 max). I say this because this age demographic looks up to a slightly older mentor “kid”.
POV: Mostly Third Person
Word Count Range: 30,000 to 55,000
Age Range: 8 – 12
Don’t Do It: No profanity, graphic violence, sexual content, or scary stuff. Try to keep adults out of the story as well(you get what I mean – kids want to see other kids doing awesome stuff.)
Book Recommendations: Brandon Mull – Fablehaven series

When it comes time to sit and write, remind yourself who you are writing for. It’s your job as a writer to give your audience an emotional ride. It’s so easy to persuade a reader not to read, so figure out the perfect readability score and adapt.

Readability Score #2 Young Adult

I think with young adult books, you should shoot between a readability score of 70.0 – 50.00. The average reader for young adult books is about 16 years old.

Other characteristics to consider when writing in the young adult reading range.
Voice/Theme: This is all over the board, but understand at this age these kids are starting to deal with social issues, peer pressure, sexcuality and rebellious tendencies.
Characters: Young adults are figuring out where they fit into the world. They reflect the issues between peers and parental adult characters.
POV: Mostly First Person
Word Count Range: 50,000 – 75,000
Age Range: 13 – 17
Don’t Do It: Profanity, graphic violence, and sexual overtones are ok. Use your own discretion, due to the maturity range in young adult novels.
Book Recommendations: Harry Potter – Books 3 – 6(younger), Sarah J. Mass – Throne of Glass Series(older)

When it comes time to sit and write, remind yourself who you are writing for. It’s your job as a fiction writer to give your audience an emotional ride. It’s so easy to persuade a reader not to read, so figure this out early and adapt.

Readability Score #3 New Adult Fiction

First coined in 2008/2009, this rather new genre of fiction targets readers from age 18-30. I’d suggest shooting for a readability score of 70.0 – 60.0. Not to dumb down the new adult reader, but you want these types of books to have a quick flow.

Other characteristics to consider when writing in the New Adult Fiction reading range.
Voice/Theme: This theme is heavily focused on adulthood and life after high school and in some cases life after college.
Characters: You will see both weak and strong female characters in new adult fiction.
POV: Mixed First/Third Person
Word Count Range: 55,000 – 80,000
Age Range: 18 – 30
Book Recommendations: Beautiful Disaster – Jamie Mcguire

When it comes time to sit and write, remind yourself who you are writing for. It’s your job as a fiction writer to give your audience an emotional ride. It’s so easy to persuade a reader not to read, so figure this out early and adapt.

Readability Score #4 Adult Fiction

This one is tricky due to the number of genera in adult fiction. However, I’d suggest keeping the score within 70.0 – 30.0.

Other characteristics to consider when writing in the Adult Fiction reading range.
Voice/Theme: This also is determined upon genere, but is normally geared around adult themes such as life, family, and development.
Characters: A whole gambit of characters, but almost always adults serve as the protagonist in this reading level.
POV: Mixed First/Third Person
Word Count Range: 80,000 – 130,000 +
Age Range: 18 – 101
Book Recommendations: Brad Thor – Code of Conduct, Tana French – In The Woods, Nora Roberts – The Next Always

When it comes time to sit and write, remind yourself who you are writing for. It’s your job as a fiction writer to give your audience an emotional ride. It’s so easy to persuade a reader not to read, so figure this out early and adapt.

S.M. Morgan
shane@toomuchtowrite.com
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