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Recently, I joined a team of writers who write for students. We're an essay mill. Mind you, I've been doing this since 2005, and I've learned to "dumb down" my writing for the incompetent bunch of students who ask for my services regularly. I've encountered a problem since I joined this team, however: the boss thinks my writing style is way too complicated for what the group aims to produce. I found this hard to believe, considering I've practiced keeping things simple tirelessly.

My questions:

  1. How do I make sure that what I've written is simple enough to suit the likes of a 'poor' student?
  2. Does sentence length play a huge role in keeping readability levels high, or is vocabulary a the ultimate factor contributing to those levels? My boss seems to have a problem with my vocabulary, but I'm using--what I assume is--a really common set of vocabulary -- at least, for the college/late high school levels.

Any tips?

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closed as off topic by John Smithers, Craig Sefton, Neil Fein, Steven Drennon, justkt Nov 7 '11 at 1:13

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Copious Andorian ale before writing. It's easy to identify: it's green. –  Lauren Ipsum Nov 6 '11 at 0:19
Wait, are you saying we've got some non-Trekkies on this forum? I must be getting old. –  Standback Nov 6 '11 at 3:04
Am I the only on who finds this question ethically troubling? Have opened a thread in Meta: Question about essay mill –  Neil Fein Nov 6 '11 at 14:03
@NeilFein, have you nothing better to do? I asked an honest question. What's I'm doing is ghostwriting -- for an essay mill or not. Please, do not degrade me or belittle my post. I will argue no further. –  Mr_Spock Nov 6 '11 at 14:16
I think this question is overly vague. Yes, sentence length plays a huge role, yes, vocabulary is a big factor, now what? Best you ask your "poor" students (or their profs ;) or you give us an example. –  John Smithers Nov 6 '11 at 15:26

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

For vocabulary, find your word in this frequency list (really a ranking): http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists#English

For every thousand in a word's ranking beyond 4000, cut your expected readership in half. I just made up that equation based on whim. If your whims differ, adjust the equation to suit.

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