I like to analyze things. Take them apart and put them back together. And I don’t mean just breaking into an old blender to see how it works. When I look at a piece of writing, I do too.
Literary analysis usually comes in the form of a study of symbolism, figurative language, etc. But what if we go beyond the words and dive into some numbers? How can we quantify a piece of writing? And what can we learn from that?
- Take a book from this month’s topic list, open it to any random 2-page spread, and start counting.
- Start simple. How many paragraphs? This is what I found:
- folding technology 6.5
- cool paper folding 3
- the science of fashion 5
This simple activity raised questions: Is each speech bubble considered a paragraph? What happens to each point? Within each book, how consistent is this number from issue to issue? Comparing books, why can the number of paragraphs vary so much? What factors influence paragraph length?
And that could lead to another level of counting: How many sentences per paragraph?
- folding technology 4
- cool paper folding two
- the science of fashion 3
Of course, that led to more questions: What is the average on a margin? How much does it vary from spread to spread? From book to book? What factors might an author consider when making decisions (consciously or unconsciously) about where to break for another paragraph?
This analysis could lead us to dig even deeper: how many words per sentence?
Which could lead us to: How many letters per word?
For the most authentic research, I think it’s best to start this analysis manually, but once a writer becomes curious about patterns within a book or across multiple books, counting can become laborious. Time for some tools!
Take a look at your word processing program. I bet you will find a word count function and more. Take some text from a book and put that technology to work!
Compare that text with a similar portion of one of your own writings. How are the quantities similar? Different? How are the intended audiences similar? Different?
While doing my analyses, I noticed that both Folding Tech: Using Origami and Nature to Revolutionize Technology Y The Science of Fashion (See Investigate) I used another really cool tool that can be used for analysis: word clouds! I love the way these convert data into images.
- Find a word cloud generator online. Lots of options at https://coolinfographics.com/word-clouds Here is one of this blog posts.
- Create a word cloud in the shape of the topic of the text.
- What other fun ways can you analyze and visualize your writing?
Quantities and questions can lead to a whole scope of learning about writing. Try it yourself!
When you don’t analyze the words written by others, heather l montgomery write books for children who love animals! Snag a text from her recent Who cares about a poop? Amazing science from one end to the other to see what you can see! Learn more at www.HeatherLMontgomery.com