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    


Published by: byron kalies

Writer, golfer and golf writer, I have developed and moved on (not permanently in case there are any publishers reading this) from the relatively straightforward world of management consultancy with motivation, leadership, change matrices, decision making, communication, customer care, bottom lines, double-loop learning, stress, attribution theory, behavioural interviewing, project management, group think and Johnson and Scholes’ Cultural Web, to the complex and unfathomable world of describing places where people can hit a ball into a hole. I have written for a number of golf magazines and newspapers including 'Golf International' , 'wales on Sunday' and am currently golf correspondent for Cambria Magazine (Wales's Magazine) and blogger for Wales Online.

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