this is a SHAXPIR project
how does it work?

Writing the Novel

  by Lawrence Block

(about 259 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:

that required it. I could have done more research. I could have read everything Rudyard Kipling wrote instead of limiting myself to the poetry collection and the Just So Stories. I can’t see that it would have hurt the book had I known more, because there’s always the possibility I would have stumbled on something that would have enriched my novel. By the same token, I could have managed to write this book with considerably less research than I did. I could have invented an item of rare Kiplingana without taking pains to root it in the facts of his life. It would have been good enough with less research, I suspect, but it would not have been as good a book as it is now (whatever its overall merits may be). How much or how little research any area demands is very definitely a subjective judgment. If the Kipling book played a less central role in the mystery, I’d have been wasting time to delve into the subject so deeply. If it played a greater role—if, say, the whole puzzle hinged on various events in the great man’s life—then more extensive research might well have been indicated. If you substitute antique furniture for Rudyard Kipling in what I’ve just recounted, you’ll see how the same principles would apply in our gothic novel. And if you’ll substitute whatever unfamiliar subject matter plays a role in your own novel, you’ll be able to see to what extent research is result in your sifting your background for elements that will prove useful in your writing. Once when I was in high school I came home one afternoon to find that my mother had left the place locked. I went around and crawled in through the milk chute, an accomplishment which looked to be as likely as slipping a camel through the eye of a needle, given the tiny dimensions of the milk chute and the unpleasantly plump dimensions of the embryonic author. I was to repeat this procedure on numerous occasions when the door was unlocked, for the entertainment of friends and relatives, and I can still recall squirming through that hole in the wall and landing upside down in a confusion of mops and brooms and scrub buckets; the milk chute, unused since the war, opened into a cluttered broom closet. Nowadays I write books about a burglar. Perhaps the seed was planted all those many years ago, when I first discovered the thrill of illicit entry. I’ve written three novels to date about Bernie Rhodenbarr without making use of that milk-chute entrance, but I recalled it a week or so ago, and this time I saw it from the stance of one who writes about burglary. I immediately saw any number of ways such a bit of business could fit into a novel about a burglar, and I let my mind play with the possibilities, and I filed them all away in the cluttered broom closet I call

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 1293.86 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.

similar books by different authors

other books by Lawrence Block

something missing?

Our library is always growing, so check back often…

If you’re an author or a publisher,
contact us at to help grow the library.