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Novelist as a Vocation

  by Haruki Murakami

(about 237 pages)
total words
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
passive voice
of all the books in our library
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library
of all the books in our library

clippings from this book

We’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of words, from thousands of different authors, training our linguistic models to recognize the most vivid words in the English language… the words that create the most intense sensory experiences: colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and aromas.

Based on our analysis, we’ve scanned through the pages of this book to find the two pages at the extremes, both the most-passive and the most-vivid pages, so that you can compare them side-by-side and see the difference:

any work into which so much time has been invested will pay off in the end. Time will tell. There are some things in this world whose value will become apparent only after many years have passed. If I weren’t certain of that I might grow depressed, however thick my skin. As long as I’m confident that I did everything I should have done, without stinting, there is nothing I need to fear. I can place my future in the hands of time. If we treat time with all the respect, prudence, and courtesy it deserves, it will become our ally. Raymond Carver wrote the following in a 1982 essay he wrote for The New York Times, “A Story-Teller’s Shoptalk”: “It would have been better if I’d taken the time.” I was dumbfounded when I heard a novelist friend say this. I still am, if I think about it, which I don’t. It’s none of my business. But if the writing can’t be made as good as it is within us to make it, then why do it? In the end, it’s all we have, the only thing we can take into the grave. I wanted to say to my friend, for heaven’s sake go do something else. There have to be easier and maybe more honest ways to try and earn a living. Or else just do it to the best of your abilities, your talents, and then don’t justify or make excuses. Don’t complain, don’t explain. These are music. Jazz was my main inspiration. As you know, the most important aspect of a jazz performance is rhythm. You have to sustain a solid rhythm from start to finish—when you fail, people stop listening. The next most important element is the chords, or harmony if you like. Beautiful chords, muddy chords, secondary chords, chords with the tonic removed. Bud Powell’s chords, Thelonious Monk’s chords, Bill Evans’s chords, Herbie Hancock’s chords. There are so many kinds. Though everyone is using a piano with the same eighty-eight keys, the sound varies to an amazing degree depending on who’s playing. This says something important about novel writing as well. The possibilities are limitless—or virtually limitless—even if we use the same limited material. The fact that a piano has only eighty-eight keys hardly means that nothing new can be done with it. Finally there is the matter of free improvisation, which lies at the root of jazz music. Once the rhythm and chord progression (or harmonic structure) have been established, the musician is able to weave notes freely into the composition. I can’t play a musical instrument. Or at least I can’t play one well enough to expect people to listen to me. Yet I have the strong desire to perform music. From the beginning, therefore, my intention was to write as if I were playing an instrument. I still feel like that today. I sit tapping away at the keyboard searching for the right rhythm, the most suitable chords

emotional story arc

Click anywhere on the chart to see the most significant emotional words — both positive & negative — from the corresponding section of the text…
This chart visualizes the the shifting emotional balance for the arc of this story, based on the emotional strength of the words in the prose, using techniques pioneered by the UVM Computational Story Lab. To create this story arc, we divided the complete manuscript text into 50 equal-sized chunks, each with 1187.40 words, and then we scored each section by counting the number of strongly-emotional words, both positive and negative. The bars in the chart move downward whenever there’s conflict and sadness, and they move upward when conflicts are resolved, or when the characters are happy and content. The size of each bar represents the positive or negative word-count of that section.

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