How to Write a Successful Novel

Words Remembered, Not Said

Distractions of the week

…. Wednesday – release of kindle day-job book ‘Essential Management Skills’ – New update of Scrivener software – Golf competition at Cradoc Golf Club – excellent day, but no cigar – Coronation Street -Eisteddfod at Bala – ‘Fargo’ – Online poker – New books : ‘Child of God’, ‘Frank’ – Cat waking up at 4 a.m. – Su Doku – Twitter – Thinking of idea for golf article for Culture Cymru  -Still managed to write a chapter – result – reading an article on using writing style to predict the success of novels …………………….

I researched the research at …..

entitled Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels

researched by Vikas Ganjigunte Ashok, Song Feng, Yejin Choi

Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-4400

They have uncovered the secret of success. Their research concerned the analysis  of writing styles to predict if a novel will be successful or not. As part of the study there are a number of words analysed and determined as being successful or unsuccessful in novels.

Consider the following 2 paragraphs:

“Not really,” I said. “Words can say much about me, my unicorn and my turtle. Which to choose, that is the question? After the decision I ponder the questions – Where? What? Whom? Whenever I remembered my life, after my birth, I recognized the struggle within. So I must go up, out, into the void within.”


“Never take the risk. And worse never hit slaves hard. If a person is murdered, or even bruised on the arm or body the assailant will face a heavy prison sentence.  As I sat in my room on the bay near the beach, watching my boat outside the door, I wanted to promise that I would cry, shout, but never go down that avenue. As I resisted the urge, I became very breathless until I reached a state where I became almost sacred where the slightest thought would make me absolutely perfect. “

Apparently the first one will be the most successful. According to the study (Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels ) there is a way to predict success.

The most successful words to include in novels are – not, said, words, says, I, me, my, and, which, though, that, as, after, but, where, what, as, after, but, where, what, whom, since, whenever, up, into, out, after, in, within, recognized, remembered.

The less successful words are – never, risk, worse, slaves, hard, murdered, bruised, heavy, prison, face, arm, body, skins, room, beach, bay, hills, avenue, boat, door, want, went, took, promise cry shout, jump, glare, urge, never, very, breathless, sacred, slightest, absolutely, perfect

I suspect this would apply doubly to book titles. I guess the more good words you can combine, the better. I did a little research –

My list of ‘should be’ successful novels  –

‘Me and My Brothers’. Technically not a novel but it was co-written by Charlie Kray so it’s technically anything it wants to be.

Who, What, Where, When, Die – Amanda M Lee.

Whenever They Call Me a Dreamer – Marsha L Sisk

Out – Natsuo Kirino

After Me, the Delude – David Forrest

Not I – Samuel Beckett. Again not exactly a novel but included because the list of successful words reads like Billy Whitelaw in a scene from a Beckett play.

List of ‘should not be successful’ novels –

Breathless – at least 10 different authors

Whenever Whenever – Richard Bradley

Beach, Bach, Boat, Barbecue  – Penny Oliver and Ian Bachelor

74 Seaside Avenue – Debbie Macomber – will be about boats, beaches, Bach and barbecues, I suspect

“Don’t Cry for Me Aberystwyth” Malcolm Pryce ( a legend) with one of the best titles ever being a complex mix of good and bad

So, what have I learnt?  – not much. Yes, you’re right – even with all the distractions I have got too much time on my hands. However my next book is going to be –

“Words Remembered, Not Said” – a romantic novel


 You can read the opening chapter of ‘Mynydd Eimon: Private Hell’ here, or you can get the book on Amazon and Kindle here

 You can get the ‘Essential Management Skills’ Kindle book here    

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