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24 BY JOY LAZENDORFER - - - With a ruler, measure the amount of white space versus black space (e.g. words) in your novel. If the ratio of black space to white space exceeds 60:40, add mor e line breaks. Make a graph of the important nouns and verbs in novels by William Faulkner, Cor mac McCarthy, or Ernest Hemingway. Do the same for your novel. Stare at graphs a nd draw conclusions. If the number of nouns (A) are equal to the number of verbs (B), and the number of articles (X) are half the number of (A) and (B), then you should be able to m ake an isosceles triangle. Studies show that the protagonist should speak 61%-83% of total dialogue, with t he remaining 39%-17% reserved for other characters. Books that do not follow thi s formula are unlikely to land a good agent. With scissors, cut out all unique words used in the novel. Put these words in a bowl of water for three minutes. Words that do not float should be removed from the text immediately. Count the adverbs in any best-selling novel. Compare that to the number of adver bs in your novel. If the adverbs in your novel exceed the adverbs in the best se ller, panic. Print out your novel and lay it on the floor of your house. From a high vantage point, study the paragraphs for patterns and shapes. Uses these to predict your future. Add a point every time your characters are active. Subtract a point every time y ou describe feelings or the scenery. At the end, if you did this right, you shou ld have the number 347. To test for rhythm, sing a portion of your book to Leonard Bernstein s song I Feel Pretty. If a page cannot be sung to this song, adjust wording until it can. Spend a day removing extraneous incidents of that, just, and but from your novel. Calc ulate how many hours it takes you to do this task. Multiply that number by three , and you will know how many hours you spent writing those words in the first pl ace. Despair.