Just read this article http://chronicle.com/article/Becoming-a-Stylish-Writer/132677/ that claims many academics don't write well and that they can learn from creative writing to become more stylish without worrying about appearing to be less intellectual. Anyway, I've read many excellent academic articles at graduate school so I know that it's possible to write well when writing expository essays. I thought that this test http://www.writersdiet.com/WT.php?home is interesting and took the test, the result being "fit and trim." I can apparently benefit from a light exercise in my usage of "it," "this," "that," and "there."
Suggestions given are as follows:
Verbal verve: Limit be-verbs (is, was, are, were, be, been) to no more than a few per paragraph. Favor strong, specific, robust action verbs (scrutinize, dissect, capture) over weak, vague, lazy ones (have, do, show). Steer clear of passive verb constructions (it has been demonstrated) except when used for stylistic effect.
Noun density: Anchor abstract ideas in concrete language and illustrate theoretical concepts using real-life examples. (Show, don’t just tell!) Avoid overdependence on nominalizations: long, important-sounding nouns formed from verbs or adjectives (overdependence, nominalizations, pretentiousness).
Prepositional podge: Avoid long strings of prepositional phrases, especially when they drive nouns and verbs apart ("The principle of keeping nouns and verbs as close to each other as possible for the benefit of readers has many benefits").
Ad-dictions: Employ adjectives and adverbs only when they contribute new information to a sentence; get your nouns and verbs to do most of your descriptive work.
In my case, the waste words section was highlighted in yellow for the passage I submitted. I would have to think about that. I thought it might be interesting to take passages I like from different authors and see how they stand up to this test, but there was already a disclaimer in the Q&A section for this:
Q. I ran the WritersDiet Test on a passage by my favorite author, and it came out "flabby." Doesn't this mean your test is flawed?
A. I developed the test to help stodgy academic writers write more clearly and energetically. Many fabulous pieces of prose will receive scores of "flabby" or even "heart attack" on the test, because stylish writers have the confidence and skill to play around with language in ways that the Writers Diet Test is not designed to evaluate.