How to write a bestseller with ‘stylometry’

Scientists say they’ve uncovered the secret to writing a bestselling novel. By using a process called “statistical stylometry,” which basically means data mining an overload of printed matter — in this case 40,000 books and film scripts — to find patterns of wood usage.

The Stony Brook University researchers say that books that used more conjunctions (and, or, but) and thought-processing words, such as “recognized,” did better than books that had a higher percentage of verbs, adverbs and foreign words.

Do you believe them?

Here’s a quote from one of the researchers, which gives a sense of what it means to write about research (and maybe a good example of how not to write a bestselling sentence (look at those action verbs and a verb of being, but then again there’s that all-powerful “and”).

“Based on novels across different genres, we investigated the predictive power of statistical stylometry in discriminating successful literary works, and identified the stylistic elements that are more prominent in successful writings.”


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