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We Were Eight Years In Power

  by Ta-Nehisi Coates

(about 459 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:

Span had been incarcerated at age sixteen, sentenced to nine and a half to fifteen years for carjacking, among other offenses. When I met with Patricia, Edward was about three years into his sentence, and she was as worried for him as she was angry at him. He’d recently begun calling home and requesting large sums of money. She was afraid he was being extorted by other prisoners. At the same time, she was unhappy about carrying the burden Edward had placed on her after all the hard work she’d put in as a mother. “He never ate school lunch. I would get up in the morning and make subs, sandwiches, salads, spaghetti, fried chicken,” she said. “We had dysfunction, but what family don’t? There’s no excuse for his misbehavior. So whatever you did out there, you can’t do in here. You know what it’s about. I told you out here what’s going to happen in there. So you gave me heartache out here. You can’t give it to me in there.” But the heartache was unavoidable. “It’s like I’m in prison with him. I feel like I’m doing every day of that nine-and-a-half to fifteen.” When he was seventeen, Edward was taken from juvenile detention and put in an adult prison. Even in juvenile, Edward couldn’t sleep at night. “He feared going to prison,” Patricia told me. “He calls home and tells me he’s okay. But I know different because he has a female friend he calls. He can’t relaxed. It was 1962. Black, bespectacled, skinny, and bucktoothed, Ma was also considered to have the worst head of hair in her family. Her tales of home cosmetology are surreal. They feature a hot metal comb, the kitchen stove, my grandmother, much sizzling, the occasional nervous flinch, and screaming and scabbing. In the ongoing quest for the locks of Lena Horne, a chemical relaxer was an agent of perfection. It held longer than hot combs, and with more aggressionvirtually every strand could be subdued, and would remain so for weeks. Relying on chemistry instead of torque and heat, the relaxer seemed more worldly, more civilized and refined. That day, the hairdresser donned rubber gloves, applied petroleum jelly to protect Ma’s scalp, stroked in a clump of lye, and told my mother to hold on for as long as she could bear. Ma endured this ritual every three to four weeks for the rest of her childhood. Sometimes, the beautician would grow careless with the jelly, and Ma’s scalp would simmer for days. But on the long walk home, black boys would turn, gawk, and smile at my mother’s hair made good. Ma went off to college, leaving the house of my grandmother, a onetime domestic from Maryland’s Eastern Shore who had studied nursing in night school and owned her own home. This was 1969. Martin Luther King Jr. was dead. Baltimore had exploded in riots. Ma hung a poster of Huey Newton in her dorm room. She donated clothes

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 2295.86 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.

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