Interested in writing a bestseller? You may want to check out Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers' newest book, The Bestseller Code. Or maybe not: "At times, it seems like Archer and Jockers are trying to retrofit a closed system. They found that best-sellers have lots of contractions—the better, they explain, to mimic contemporary speech—and exclamation points only rarely ... They conclude that best-sellers consist of 'shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words,' and that best-selling characters 'make things happen.' Active verbs predict best-sellers better than passive verbs. 'Hesitation doesn’t keep pages turning,' Archer and Jockers decide. After all that work, in other words, the algorithm ends up confirming the uncontested tenets of craft and style."
Could “cozy literary fiction” ever be a thing? Mallory Ortberg at The Toast has penned a passionate defense of the unintentionally hilarious “cozy mystery” genre. Sate your mystery fix with this essay from The Millions’ own Matt Seidel on the four ways to wrap up a mystery tale.
Out this week: The Novel: An Alternative History by Steven Moore; Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat; F, a new book of poems by Franz Wright; and The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd, which Katie Rogin reviewed for us last week. For more on these and other interesting titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.