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  1. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Thought verbs - yes or no?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sheriff Woody, Jan 24, 2014.

    First, there's this: http://gizmodo.com/will-your-novel-be-a-best-seller-ask-this-super-accura-1497802491

    That article explains that successful books (i.e. books readers tend to enjoy the most) avoid verbs and adverbs that describe specific actions and emotions, and instead make more use of "thought verbs" that describe the thought process.

    But then, there's this: http://litreactor.com/essays/chuck-palahniuk/nuts-and-bolts-%E2%80%9Cthought%E2%80%9D-verbs

    In this article, Chuck Palahniuk says to do the complete opposite of what the algorithm in the first link noted was successful - describe the action directly and let the reader do the thinking.

    I understand that an algorithm is not something to be taken as gospel, but it is quite fascinating to note the similarities of successful books and those of unsuccessful books, whether those similarities factor into the success of the book in any meaningful way or not.

    What is your thought on the matter?
     
    A.M.P. likes this.
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Palahniuk. What he's talking about is called filtering. Filtering moves the reader one additional degree of separation away from the character and is, IMO, to be avoided.
     
    A.M.P. likes this.
  3. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

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    After reading, I found that Palahniuk was more important than some algorithm based on old books.
    Is it shocking that books that were published had something in common? Not at all.

    I think Palahniuk had a good point when it comes to showing but I also believe there is a strong use for some light "telling".
    Although, his article is excellent and in-depth on how to do it. The examples are clear and strong.
    Anyone who wants to write would benefit from reading it.

    Thanks for bringing the second article to light.
    I think I just may bookmark it.
    Same goes to you, Wreybies.
    Useful and well presented.
     
  4. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like most articles describing stats papers, that one's a bit of a gloss.

    The definition of 'successful' was number of downloads from Project Gutenberg, chosen mostly because it was the most practical objective measure available. That's some way from 'books readers enjoyed the most' - the paper points out that one of the reasons they chose this was because it didn't necessarily have any bearing on literary quality. The 84% figure quoted was also only for unigrams within the Adventure genre.

    The other thing to always remember with stats is that correlation is not causation. Just because a frequently-downloaded book contained a lot of a certain type of word, it doesn't mean you have to use those types of words to get downloaded. It's more likely to just be a feature of the writing style prevalent at the time.
     
  5. Sheriff Woody

    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    This is absolutely true. Similarities may not be the reason for any success, but I find it intriguing to learn in what way those similarities have impacted the product one way or another. It's always possible to learn something new when looking from a different perspective, whether it be writing, sports, life, etc.
     

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