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A Good Tale's Story Analyzer

Welcome to the Story Analyser. Paste you story in the box below and press the "Count" button. The analyser will then calculate the statistics for your story. This is a free tool that is provide to give you some insight into how you are writing your story. There is no guarantee implied or stated that the tool will provide accurate statistics for your story or help you improve it.

Using the Analyzer

To use the analyzer, simply paste your story into the box below, then press the "Count" button. The page will refresh and some text summaries will be printed along with four graphs. To analyze a different story or piece of text, simply click again in the text box, select all of the text, paste in the new text, then press Count.


What the tool does

The tool counts the letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs in your story. It then gives you different ways to look at the things it counted, like letters per word, words per sentences, and sentences per paragraph.

Why would you care?

Good question. The most common answer is that you want to improve your reader's experience when reading your stories. The follow up question is most likely, "How can counting things improve my reader's experience?"

Now, before we start talking about how these statistatics can help your story, let me say that there are lots of ways to measure how readable a story is. Here are some of the common ways to measure readability:

There are lots of websites that can calculate these numbers for you, one example is http://www.read-able.com. While these scores may tell you what grade level reader should be able to read your story, it doesn't give you much information on how to change it. These graphs are a way to see your story and perhaps let you see where you might make changes.

Word Length

Word length can be an indicator of how hard your story is to read. In general:

Word length can be an indicator of story speed.

A mix of word lengths in a sentence or paragraph makes it easier for the eye to follow along. A sentence with words of all the same length is harder to read:

Whosever uprooted puppetry toyshops foregoes specific thievery, therefor, slapping southern eyesores upstairs.

Jill kept more wine, less lost hope bade away good luck. Jeff will send four dogs west when Jill says okay.

As a final thought on word length, Mark Twain is quoted as having said, "I never write metropolis for seven cents when I can get the same price for city. I never write policeman when I can get the same money for cop."

Sentence Length

Like word length, sentence length can be an indicator of how hard your story is to read.

Story speed, or the feeling the reader has about how quickly the action in the story is going, can be greatly affected by sentence length. Long sentences take longer to read. Since a sentences contains one piece of information, the longer it takes to get that piece of information, the slower the story seems to be going. Short sentences in contrast take less time to read so it feels like the story is moving faster.

Is one better than the other? No.

A good story will be a mixture of both, but there may be concentrations of short and long sentences in your story. Why? Because you want the story to feel like it is going at different speeds at different times. If short sentences grab the readers and pull them forward through the story, why not just write short sentences? The simple answer is that if you just write short sentences they stop feeling short, they stop grabbing the reader, and just feel like they were written for a younger reader. It is in contrast to the long sentences that the shorts ones feel short.

For example, I might write short sentences of one, two and three words. When compared to my longer sentences of ten words, these do feel short. You on the other hand may write mostly 20 and 30 word sentences, so when your sentences drop to 5 to 10 words they will feel short to your reader.

In contract to short sentences, long sentences give your reader a chance to slow down and smell the roses, no, to understand the rose and become one with them. It is through long and descriptive sentences that you build an image in your readers mind - it is where your characters become real. Then why not just write long sentences that are full of life and flavor? If all your sentences are long and full of little details and insights into your character, frankly, your reader will get bored. It doesn't mater how interesting your character and your world are, if your character never gets around to do anything, then who really cares. Without the short sentences to keep things moving, the long ones just seem to drone one.

So when do you use each? The simple answer is you use both types, and the ones in between, all the time, but when you are describing things you will probably notice that the sentences tend to get longer, and when things are getting tenses and there is action the sentences will tend to get shorter. Here is an example of a couple of paragraphs of description that turn into action. For fun you can copy and paste this example into the box above to see how it looks in the analyzer.

Ryan stood in the warn afternoon sun in a small green meadow. All around him stood a dense forest of ancient oak trees who's great branches kept the forest floor in perpetual darkness. While Ryan preferred the sunlight and the peace that it promised, he was no stranger to the darkness and the plots formed there. In fact, he stood in the meadow this very day because of one of those plots.

It had stared two weeks ago when a woman came into the tavern crying. She told a story of how her husband had disappeared while cutting trees, how he didn't return at sunset, of how they found his tools abandoned in a clearing. She had cried at the telling of her lost husband. She begged everyone at the tavern to help - only Ryan listened.

For two weeks Ryan had followed the trail. Some days he seemed to be getting closer. Other days he fell behind. This morning he caught up.

He heard them first. A cracking of branches. The sound of a whip.

He snuck close - peered through the underbrush. Five orcs pushed a man before them. He stumbled and fell. The whip hit again. Ryan watched.

His heart told him to act swiftly. His mind urged caution. He waited. He followed.

When they stopped for the night he attacked. Five Arrows. Four orcs dropped. The remaining orc struck the man. Another arrow dropped the last orc. To late. The man lay dead.

Now Ryan stood in the warn sun, feeling the sun's heat, but not the peace it usually brought. Now his mind was full of what ifs and dozens of ways to tell the man's wife that he had failed. The woods seemed darker now.

When you analysis this story you will see several things. The first graph shows you letters per word. This story as an average of 4.1 letters per word, with the shorest word being 1 letter and the longest being 11. Next is a graph of the number of words per sentence. With an average of 8.7 words per sentence, it is a little on the short side. There are five sentences that are two words long and one that is 30 words long. The next graph covers paragraph lengths which is covered in the next section and finally a graph that shows sentences over time. The last graph shows that the sentence length over time. The first two paragraphs and the last one are longer. The middle paragraphs are shorter. In this case the sentence length follows the action in the story.

Paragraph Length

Paragraph length is more like word length that sentence length. The purpose of a paragraph is to contain an idea or thought. Short paragraphs are easy to understand, but lack detail. Long paragraphs require more thought to get all of its meaning, but that meaning is deeper and wider. Like words and sentences, the key is variety. If all your paragraphs have three sentences the story will feel choppy. If they are all long and complicated it will tend to drag. A variety of lengths will keep the reader engaged.

Looking at the results from the above example when run through the analyzer, you can see that this story has eight paragraphs, with the average length being 4.3 sentences. More interesting is the spread which is from 3 to 7 sentences per paragraph. The last graph shows some even more interesting paragraph information. The paragraph with the shortest sentences, the fourth, also has the fewest number of sentences.