August 4, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Literature in numbers: A new algorithm attempts to predict the next bestseller

1 min read

WERONIKA JURKIEWIEZ in The Columbia Spectator

cockroachesAfter analyzing 800 books, Stony Brook’s researchers found that their most successful writers used more nouns and pronouns, as well as conjunctions such as “and” and “but,” than unsuccessful ones. Successful authors also described their characters’ thought processes by using words such as “recognized” or “remembered” instead of explicitly stating their characters’ emotions. Ground-breaking? Not quite. The average reader understands that good writing hinges on more than frequent use of nouns, pronouns, conjunctions and common verbs—and that well-written books aren’t always more successful than poorly-written ones. Stony Brook’s research efforts reflect an industry’s desperation to put its finger on exactly what it is that readers enjoy, even if the results are arbitrary at best.

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