The Secret to Writing a Best-selling Novel (link)

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The question of whether Vance was dead or not became more than academic when he found himself in a bathtub up to his chin in ice water like some forgotten cocktail garnish, a demonic woman standing over him, and no memory of how he got there.
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Read free chapters of Dispensing Justice here (or get it here).
Read free chapters of The Red Rook here (or get it here). -- Fritz Freiheit

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Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success - and the secret is to avoid cliches and excessive use of verbs.

Successful books also avoided words that explicitly described actions and emotions such as “wanted,” “took,” or “promised.” Successful books used verbs that described thought processes such as “recognized” or “remembered.”

From a linguistic perspective, this means that as a writer you are better off creating an impression that allows the reader to fill in the blanks, rather than filling them in yourself.

The bottom line for successful books, at least in the US, is a style that is closer to journalism - something that conveys information rather than emotion.


Tags:Link, Writing, On Writing, Analysis, Text Analysis
Comment:What I find most interesting about this is that the idea that best-selling novels have fewer verbs (and perhaps it is just better chosen verbs) is that it runs contrary to the common exultation you hear in writing advice circles of "action on every page" (or the equivalent), that is action necessarily equals verbs. What is not surprising (to me), is the notion of letting the reader fill in the details (part of trusting and making the reader your partner in story telling).
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