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.”
Recommended Reading: David Sedaris’s essay about his sister Tiffany’s suicide, “Now We Are Five,” for The New Yorker. “How could anyone purposefully leave us, us, of all people? This is how I thought of it, for though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost it in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else.”
There are a lot of writers who work in advertising, and it’s starting to have an impact. People are more likely to love brands if there is a story involved, according to a new study. “We’ve known for a long time there is no ‘buy’ button in the brain. But these results show there’s a ‘story’ button,” neuroscientist Paul Zak says. Pair with: Our essay on working at a creative agency after getting your MFA.
A while back, Frank Ocean alluded to the possibility of one day writing a novel. Asked by Guardian interviewer Rebecca Nicholson about his immediate plans following the success of his last album, Channel Orange, the musician replied, “I might just write a novel next.” The response seemed unserious. But now, in Jeff Himmelman’s long profile of Ocean for The New York Times Magazine, it appears the idea may have a bit more traction. “It’s fiction,” says Ocean. “And it’s about brothers.”