That's amazing. I guess a few more grains of sand will land on the shore of published books, after people read this.
Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success. The secret is to avoid clichés and excessive use of verbs.
As a novelist, I knew about the first, but don't understand the last point. Let's delve deeper into what makes one book popular than another.
Apart from stylometry, the group of computer scientists from Stony Brook University in New York pointed to a range of factors which determine whether or not a book will enjoy success, including interestingness, novelty, style of writing, and how engaging the storyline is, but admit that external factors such as luck can also play a role.
By downloading classic books from the Project Gutenberg archive, the boffins were able to analyze texts with their algorithm and compare its predictions to historical information on the success of the work. They also studied modern novels. Less popular books tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as wanted, took or promised, while more successful books favored verbs that describe thought processes such as recognized or remembered.
Let's look at an established author's tips.
Although she didn't publish her first novel until she was 42, Phyllis Dorothy James had been writing since childhood. Her books include The Children Of Men, and the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series. At the age of 93, she says she wants to write just one more detective novel.
You must be born to write (Not sure if this applies to me. Musicians begin at an early age, like child prodigies, whereas I started writing at the age of fifty. Poetry and songs at first, then novels. Perhaps I needed experience to understand the fantasy/paranormal genre.)
Write about what you know (I knew that one. My heroines follow my example.)
Find your own routine (I always do. I'm a morning person who works in quiet solitude.)
Be aware that the business is changing (Oh, yes. Each writer is but a grain of sand on a beach littered with others, all vying for attention. The trick is to find out what makes one stand out.)
Read, write and don't daydream. (In other words: get on with it.)
For more in-depth tips from P.D. James visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24867584
Monday Book Tag.
1. What are you currently working on?
I'm working on the third book of the Moonstone series. It's like a psychic who-done-it. Liliha needs a project to tide her over from grief. But she gets more than she bargained for.
2. How does your work differ from others in the same genre?
In the fantasy genre, my style centers on an ordinary woman who inherits a star moonstone ring. With the ancient jewel come visions--trips to another place in another body. These are all real incidents gleaned from newspaper articles. I put myself in her situation to experience these situations while I see through their eyes, hear their thoughts and try to help them through a difficult situation.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I love to think of possibilities. I believe in the power of thought--an ant CAN move a rubber tree plant.
4. How does your writing process work?
After an initial idea, I start writing and the story flows. Sometimes the stream of inspiration is sluggish, sometimes a torrent. I hang on tight and type as fast as my fingers can manage. After I've finished the final draft, I send it to another writer in exchange for their story. They point out all the inconsistencies. I go through the story again picking up errors. Again and again until the writing and plot is as good as I can get it. Then, I begin the critique process with other members of the Internet Writing Workshop, which takes a further year until the novel is ready.
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I loved September Wind's plot, which swept me into a bleak world through the simple thoughts of Emily, a young girl living on a farm. The writing style seems natural and unforced this way. I didn't want to set the book aside. Full of tumultuous heartbreaks with very few happy times, the story transported me into other shoes as young Emily worked her way through a shattering childhood. Circumstances were different in the 1950s, but very few girls were forced to act as slaves for their families. The modern reader might find greater insight about former times, and yet empathize with her plight. Emily handles a huge work load with never a complaint.
In her teenage years, she is ready to leave the farm for good. An exciting world waits. But before she escapes, she must do her chores. A traumatic event upends her dreams and she travels with only one thought on her mind—escape to the big city. When she arrives, what's a naive girl to do? Of course, she's taken advantage of.
The story finishes in a highly satisfactory way, leaving me with a smile at the end. The deeper meaning of the way the main character's positive attitude influences those around her becomes very clear. Most of all, September Wind is a story of forgiveness.
On her website bio, the author Kathleen says: "What this thirteen year-old found that Saturday morning was something we all have, a voice inside that urges us to press on. The best we can do is to put our hearts and souls into what drives us, and then let go."
Mark your calendar and visit Kathleen next Monday 24th March. http://kathleenjanzanderson.com/
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