|Marly Youmans, free of smirks|
and tiny emotions
for what seems a zillion years.
Can readers embrace such a book? I shall not worry but shall clutch the giants and bears to my non-bestsellerdom heart or bosom or some such, and rejoice. I suppose that's rather perverse--not the clutching to bosom, heart, etc. but the rejoicing in foiling the work of digital text analysis--but it's me all over. Onward!
Over the past several Saturdays, the French-language Montreal daily has conducted a competitive experiment in using digital text analysis as a way to change the way writers write. The paper asked five established Quebec novelists to compose a story of about 1,200 words using guidelines produced by .txtLAB from a study of 200 titles from the New York Times bestselling fiction list.More Bullington-Youmans frolics coming up soon. No quantitative analysis allowed.
Common features of American bestsellers, according to .txtLAB director Andrew Piper, are short sentences (11 words on average), simple actions relayed with active verbs, frequent descriptions of facial expressions and characters who are into technology and have a mystery or violent crime to solve. These books avoid complex emotions, uncertainty and nature description, he says, as well as tea, rats, giants and bears. --Robert Everett Green, Can Computers Teach You to Write a Bestseller? at The Globe and Mail (Montreal)