A few times I’ve heard and read about writers needing to be cautious of their stories “voice” sounding age / education level appropriate of the characters involved. Such as if the story is middle school age children, than the characters should not sound as if they have doctorate degrees in science.
But I’ll take this one step further – your writing in general needs to be readable. You need to keep in mind the age group that you are writing, but need to remember that not all adults have higher levels of education.
For example: if you write a romance novel centering around the medical industry and you try to relate by using medical codes and large terms – you are limiting your audience. Sure, it may sound authentic, but it will discourage more readers who generally will not know or understand the terminology.
I believe I once read that newspapers and the press will write their articles in sixth grade level readability (I can’t find the source now) – which is the level of language most people converse in. Having a lower level of readability allows the story to expand over a wider audience. However, if you are writing that medical romance – writing it with the same level of grade as Dr. Seuss book would be a little off-putting to adults.
What do I mean by grade levels? The reliable sources for testing writing readability (Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, SMOG Index, and Coleman-Liau Index) typically goes by the American school grade level. Though, each will tests and search for different words and structure of their own scales, leaving the same material to fall under several different grade levels.
My suggestion to you is try writing your stories a grade or two below what your targeted audience is. Example: If it is for middle school age – typically fifth to eight grades than write third to sixth grade level. Just because kids are in the age range does not mean they have retain every single word from their vocabulary tests. Same way with the young adult group – aim for the middle school age range of writing, and so forth with other targeted ages.
Free web links to test your readability:
L. R. Mauck