When writing for a specific publication, authors must keep in mind the style that will work best. For an entertainment website, brief lists with bold headlines and colorful photos are a popular way to attract and maintain reader attention. Many books and studies dissect various writing styles, in an attempt to find out which is the most successful in any given situation.
For those who are interested in writing the next New York Times bestseller, I have good news! This article over at The Telegraph describes a truly fascinating attempt by computer scientists to develop an algorithm predicting the success of book sales. The scientists used books that have done well historically, as well as books that are low-ranking on Amazon, and analyzed their content to determine what makes a successful book.
It may come as no surprise to creative writing and literature students that less successful stories relied heavily on verbs and adverbs. The old adage of “show, don’t tell” seems to work like a charm, at least according to this little experiment. The project predicted the success or failure of each book with an 84% accuracy rate. You can check it out in its entirety here.