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A New Way To Edit Your Novel

If you don’t know McSweeney’s, you should, especially if you have a drier sense of humor.

A friend passed this hilarious article along to me last week.

Did you know you can edit your novel using math?

According to McSweeney’s, you absolutely can. Here’s several of examples:

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.

Add a point every time your characters are active. Subtract a point every time you describe feelings or the scenery. At the end, if you did this right, you should have the number 347.

Make a graph of the important nouns and verbs in novels by William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, or Ernest Hemingway. Do the same for your novel. Stare at graphs and draw conclusions.

Spend a day removing extraneous incidents of “that,” “just,” and “but” from your novel. Calculate 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 place. Despair.

Go read more ways to edit your novel with math.

Brilliance!

Now I’m wondering if I can put this to work with nonfiction?

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12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Curiosidades na internet.

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    January 15, 2014
  2. I have certainly read some books in my time that might have benefited from this approach, preferably ending up with a ‘0’. Others might just end up as a short story instead.

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    January 15, 2014
  3. Well said – I also enjoy the Simpsons blackboard example of mono = one, rail = rail.

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    January 15, 2014
  4. Reblogged this on we are wondrous;swirling!.

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    January 15, 2014
  5. This are fine suggestions, if you consider writing a science, not an art. Of course, there is the novel written without using the letter “e.” And as all mathematician’s know, “e” is Euler’s number. It’s an irrational constant and the base for all natural logarithms. So it seems a fine project to remove it from fiction since fiction, unlike life, needs to be somewhat plausible. Don’t know if McSweeney’s covered that one.

    Like

    January 15, 2014
  6. J.R.Barker #

    This is now of my boredom bucket list.

    Like

    January 15, 2014
  7. This is the future!

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    January 15, 2014
  8. I have some editing to do.

    Like

    January 15, 2014
  9. Reblogged this on Charlotte Gerber.

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    January 15, 2014
  10. That is really funny, i’d almost love to try those suggestions just for the fun of it.

    Like

    January 17, 2014
  11. McSweeney interns held a panel at our school once! A great bunch.

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    January 17, 2014
  12. This is a lesson in the death of creativity and in futility. I like it!

    Like

    January 20, 2014

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