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A Day Late and a Dollar Short

  by Terry McMillan


(about 603 pages)
150,656
total words
of all the books in our library
35.10%
vividness
of all the books in our library
9.30%
passive voice
of all the books in our library
3.08%
all adverbs
of all the books in our library
0.51%
ly-adverbs
of all the books in our library
2.57%
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
girl isn’t pregnant. I know that’s what’s been bothering me, too, and I don’t know why I’m trying to pretend like it’s not. This isn’t something I can control, and I’m going to have to confront Dingus about it. I really don’t give a shit if he gets mad because I eavesdropped. I’ve spent the last sixteen years of my life, and his, raising him to be a responsible young man. Stressed time and time again the importance of getting a college education, especially for a black man. Instilled in him the importance of being honest, dependable, worthy. Strive to be the best even if he doesn’t become the best. That’ll be good enough. And how in the world is a baby supposed to fit into this picture? What if that girl decides to have it? Does this boy have any idea what it could do to his future? Please. Don’t let this happen, God. My son may be stupid, but he’s smart. He’s worked too hard. I’ve worked too hard to come to this. I don’t even know which sister I dial until one answers. “Charlotte?” “Yeah.” “It’s me, Paris.” “What can I do for you?” she says, dryly. You’d think I was a bill collector. “You don’t have to sound so cold, Charlotte, my goodness.” “I don’t sound cold, and if you called to give me another lecture, I ain’t in the mood.” “I’m not calling to lecture you, so please don’t hang up the phone.” “Well, what’s dining-room table, kitchen counters, and all them rented tables was full of Tupperware bowls, roasters, and platters. You couldn’t even see the nice lace tablecloths I had put on ‘em. It musta been at least four or five hams over there, pots of collard greens, and fried chicken galore. I counted three bowls of potato salad, one coleslaw, and three twenty-pound turkeys, but somebody’s dressing wasn’t hitting on nothing, ‘cause didn’t nobody touch it. Some of them Pyrex dishes was still bubbling with macaroni-and-cheese and baked beans when we first set ‘em out. I made two big pots of string beans: one with potatoes and one with ham hocks and okra. I even put out my good silver trays for hors d’ouevres: carrot and celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower spears that nobody touched even though I put some Thousand Island dressing right next to it. Target had a special on white dish towels, which I used to hang over the edges of the bowls for the dinner rolls and cornbread squares. They been gone. We had two of every kind of cake you can think of: coconut cake; Seven- Up cake; red velvet cake; four pound cakes-one lemon, one almond; a nasty German-chocolate and a serious Sock-It-to-Me cake, which I cut in half and hid in the breadbox, ‘cause it taste just the way Mama always make-I mean made-hers. A lotta people don’t bother using a bundt pan or take the time to make the cinnamon, chopped-pecan, and brown-sugar filling

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 3013.12 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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