A friend commented that she like the data based approach I was taking with my novel after seeing my blog article that showed the distribution of pacing of the novel. I pulled the graphic from a tool called ProWritingAid. It turns out that it has a treasure trove of reports that can analyze your writing. I just completed my rough draft manuscript, and started running some of these reports. One report I really like is the "sensory" report. It tracks how many different senses you are using in the descriptions of your novel. For example, chapter ten shows these stats: Sight 66% (27 words), Sound 12% (5 words), Touch 10% (4 words), Taste 7% (3 words). It's good to engage all of your readers senses when writing a novel. It brings them deeper into the story. This report provides a good way for me to check to see if I am using all of the senses in my chapters.
Chapter 10 has 2001 words, and the entire manuscript weighs in at 71,272 words spread across 48 chapters. The numbers game goes on from there. For example, the graph below shows the percentage of dialog, tagged dialog, and so on in my novel compared to an average for general fiction, and compared to Michael Crichton.
You can analyze how long your sentences are... 41% of the sentences in The Quantum Contingent are between 10 and 19 words, compared to 37% for general fiction.... see how much alliteration you use... I have 2 five word alliterations, 6 four word alliterations, and 106 three word alliterations... the options go on and on.
Of course, numbers aren't the key to an enthralling story. An enthralling story is a creative work. I am an avid technologist but so far technology cannot compete with humans in the creative written arts. There are some AI programs that generate simplistic articles on stocks, or generate some basic ad copy, but we don't have one yet that can generate an enjoyable novel that competes with human generated works.
I did manage to incorporate one AI generated sentence into my novel. I provided the prompt “Immortality raises many ethical problems for humanity” to the transformer program at https://app.inferkit.com/demo . This program uses a modern neural network to complete the provided prompt using InferKit. I used part of the output from the program in Chapter 36. You'll have to see if you can find it when you read the book.
Fortunately, we don't need to rely on computers to write our books. Many great authors have provided us with endless entertainment with their stories, and many authors find joy in the process of writing itself. We aren't ready to write by numbers just yet... we'll just have to do it the old fashioned way... with our imagination.
Until next time! Greg
Greg's blog will cover some of the things he learned as well as some of the tech and locations he used in his new novel, The Quantum Contingent.