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Ordinary Love and Good Will

  by Jane Smiley


(about 254 pages)
63,600
total words
of all the books in our library
52.14%
vividness
of all the books in our library
8.56%
passive voice
of all the books in our library
3.11%
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
0.93%
ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library
2.18%
non-ly-adverbs
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:

MOST PASSIVE PAGE
MOST VIVID PAGE
soothing, fat somehow. It is a way I have always been with Joe more than the others. Each of them has approached me with a different request—Ellen’s has always been, “What is true?” and to the best of my ability I have always been relieved to tell her. Daniel’s has always been, “Is it okay if I do this?” and I have always been able to say “yes” or “no.” And his response has always been that he was going to do it anyway. Annie’s every look and gesture says, “Can you see me yet?” and so she is flamboyant and prickly and hilariously funny. Michael has had the simplest request, directed only at me, and that has been, “Do you love me best?” and my answer, directed only at him, has been, “I can’t.” We know where we stand. But Joe, Joe’s question is directed everywhere, and it is unanswerable. It is, “Am I okay? Tell me that I am just okay, and that is enough for me.” He is okay. He is smart and thoughtful and nice-looking. He is doing well in a prestigious program at a good school. When he wants a date or a girlfriend, he can get one. “You are okay,” I say. “You have to say that, you’re my mom,” he says, or, I imagine, “you’re my girlfriend, you’re my major adviser, you’re my friend.” Nothing can induce him to believe that he is okay. How did I overlook him when he was flares her nostrils at the fresh scents. The foal trots forward a few steps, then halts, trembling, her furry ears flicking back and forth. She paws the crusty snow and snorts a ruffling, miniature snort. The mare neighs to her, and that seems to set her off. She races toward the pasture fence, bucking and kicking. Tom, sitting on the fence, laughs. “She feels good, doesn’t she, Daddy? What a pretty girl! Come get the carrot. Here it is. Come get it.” He waits. She stops a few feet from him, throws her head, and skitters away. The mare snorts and farts and shivers all the skin along her back, ambles into the snowy pasture. The foal sails in after, her brief tail pointing stiffly upward, like the tail of a deer. They might find something under the snow—it has melted down a few inches in the last two days, as we have had temperatures well above freezing, a Valentine’s Day thaw. The sky is clear. The air is mild and thick with sun-warmed rising moisture. The mountainsides close at hand are still white entangled with brown and tan, but the dark, brushy humps beyond are a deep, winy purple, reflecting the depths above them. I can see curve folding upon curve, no precipitous, spectacular summits, as out west, no glittering peaks blazing white above the tree line, but something more soothing, and more mysterious to me, the unending mansion of the forest, full of clearings, spaces, openings, cells

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 1,272 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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other books by Jane Smiley

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