So you’re writing a short story. You moving right along and suddenly realize that your story is over thirty pages long. It’s starting to move from being a short story into being a short novella.
Or you may have another dilemma. You started writing your story and were able to wrap up the narrative in only two pages. You went from having a short story idea to having a REALLY short story.
Technically, either of these remains correct when called a short story. There are many different types of short stories and they can range from something extremely brief to a longer and more fully developed narrative that unfolds over many pages and may even be broken into mini-chapters. That is the beauty of the short story format. There is no correct way to write it!
Chances are you have filled out a job application at least one in your life. You probably filled in a section on that application asking you to list professional references. You sat and thought for a minute before writing down the name of a friend that you worked with at your last job that would give you a glowing recommendation if and when the HR manager called them.
What you really want for a reference is someone who can speak to your strengths but also be honest about potential areas of growth. A manager with whom you worked closely on important projects fits this role perfectly.
Let's look at a slightly different scenario. You're scoring the internet job boards for your next new job and find one that looks perfect. Before submitting your résumé, you add a list of four people you would consider quality references at the bottom even though the job paying didn't specifically ask for references. One you're satisfied, you post your résumé to the job site and start the clock waiting for someone to call you for an interview.
I see two potential problems here. First, there was no mention of references being needed in the job posting. If the hiring manager needs them, they should be included as a requirement as you apply. Providing extra information only serves to muddy the waters and in the long run can create confusion. If your résumé confuses the person reading it, there is a good chance it will end up in the "no" pile.
The second concern I have is the placement of the references. By putting them at the end off your résumé, it may send the message that they are not as important as the rest of the document. If you are placing the references in you résumé because you feel they are important, make sure you put them in a place that shows that importance.
I was playing around in MS Word the other day and noticed an option to include readability statistics when doing a spelling and grammar check. I decided to mark the box and see what happened.
A little to my surprise I fewer misspellings that I had anticipated, many thanks to the autocorrect function in Word for that. I also received a little window that gave me a “readability score” (in the mid 60s) and a “grade level” (nearly 8th grade!) for my document. I didn't entirely understand the meaning of these numbers or what scale they should be judged against, something Microsoft might want to incorporate into their programming when they are provided, so I went online to find out more.
The name associated with the numbers was Flesch. I quickly came upon an article by Rudolf Flesch on the website of the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) titled How to Write Plain English. Apparently Mr. Flesch developed a formula for figuring out the readability of any piece of English language writing and placing it on a scale. Regardless of what you are writing, there is something in here for everyone. If you’re writing young adult novels, this formula can help you determine if you’re writing to old or young for the average reader in the ages you are targeting. If you have a piece of writing and the readability score comes back in the teens or single digits, you probably need to find some time to edit as soon as possible.
I can hear you asking already, how can language be distilled down into a formula? It can’t. We can however use this formula as a tool for guiding us in our writing. Something as complicated as language can never be measured simply like numbers but the more information we have about our writing, the better off we will be.
Check out Flesch’s entire article. And while you’re at it, browse around the rest of the University of Canterbury’s website. I always find it interesting to see what sites look like for places around the world.
I posted a note about this on the Best Word Forward Facebook page yesterday but wanted to make an official post about it on the blog. I originally wanted to make posts here at least three times a week, but that proved to be far too much to handle. For the time being, I will be making weekly posts every Friday, alternating between an editing topic and a résumé topic each week. Hopefully this will keep the blog moving forward and will help you the reader know when to expect new content each week.
If there is a topic you have questions on regarding your own writing or résumé, please leave a comment below or email me and I will do my best to answer your question in an upcoming post.
Thank you and keep working to put your BEST WORD FORWARD!
Jonathan Ytreberg is the owner of Best Word Forward, committed to providing the best resume advice and services to clients around the globe.