Numbers in Writing: Introduction

Blog Post 11 Writing Analytics Intro

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I’m a numbers person, even though I’m writer. I wouldn’t have majored in physics if I didn’t like them.  If you’re a fiction writer, I know what many of you are thinking.  “I know, I know.  It’s important to know the word count.  That’s a number.  But I’m a right-brain person. What other numbers have to do with writing?”  This is the first of a five-part series as to why I think numbers are important.

Let’s get started.

Numbers can tell you a lot about how well your book is written. I promise.  How?

  • They can answer several questions. Answering questions regarding intensity, point of view, scene hooks, and scene type can tell you a lot about your work.
  • They can help you revise your work. Taking a look at your work at certain points in the novel, such as after the rough draft, can provide a guide as to how to revise your novel.
  • They help ensure a solid final product. Readers like variety when they read.  A novel written with only action scenes will hold the reader for only so long.  Changing things up helps maintain interest.

Getting started is easy. And the best thing?  You can start with your rough draft.  Here’s how to do it.

  1. Write your rough draft. This is the fun part. Draft it using a word processing program that will allow you to track your word count because that’s especially important. Don’t worry about perfection. Write hot. Let it flow without going back and fussing with any kind of editing.
  2. Bone up on what intensity, point of view, hook, and scene type mean. I highly recommend Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. It’s a great book that provides all sorts of information regarding how to write a good plot.
  3. Use a spreadsheet to list out your scenes, a scene summary, and at least those four items. (As a side note, I also use the spreadsheet to enter other facets of my novel to ensure that I’m on track with other facets of my work.)  No worries.  We’ll talk about each in the next set of posts.
  4. Graph those four items. Through a simple logic statement and use of a spreadsheet’s graphing programs, it’s easy to put together a set of four graphs.
  5. Analyze these graphs. See where adjustments need to be made.
  6. Adjust on the revision. When you go back through your novel, take heed of what you’ve learned through looking at the graphs. If you need to adjust something, do so. Then, when your revision is complete, go back and look at the graphs. The beauty in the spreadsheet is that all data are entered onto a master sheet. Then revise the novel accordingly.

This may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you see utilizing spreadsheets as difficult. I promise it’s not.  Instead, analytics will open your eyes and confirm what you may have been feeling.  In the end, using analytics as part of the revision process will strengthen your writing.

Question: What, if any, set of analytics do you use to help revise your writing?

I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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