We may not have time machines, but scientists are this close to being able to pinpoint the Twilight effect. Three British researchers have just released a report on collaborative writing, which analyzes writing style and similarities between novels and films, reports The Telegraph.
The researchers — Joseph Reddington, Fionn Murtagh and Douglas Cowie — were able to compare the word choice and style of different novels to see how similar they are. For example, the chart on the right shows a comparison of three romance novels: Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steel (S), Emma by Jane Austen (A) and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (M). We're not sure we needed science to tell us that Jane Austen and Stephenie Meyer are leagues apart, but it's nice to see the data.
Of course, the real magic behind the project is the ability to tell how similar a book is to a previous bestseller. The researchers compared a group of vampire novels, including the Twilight novels, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, Terry Pratchett’s first vamp-filled Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum and Charlene Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books. Again, not sure we needed science to tell us that the Sookie Stackhouse books are much more similar to Twilight (love triangle, werewolves, obnoxious heroines and all) than anything Anne Rice would write.
At the same time, if you can analyze how similar a new novel is to a proven screen hit, then the possibilities are endless. “It’s no surprise they were pulled out to become famous on the big and little screen,” Reddington told The Telegraph.
The researchers weren't exactly bent on global (box office) domination, though. They thought publishers might like to use their software to determine which commercial market a potential manuscript might work best in. We say forget about the publishers. Movie studio executives — especially the ones who thought The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures or The Host might be the next YA-adaptation spectacular — will eat this up.
And it looks like they're already heading that way. Reddington told The Telegraph that the team is expanding its study to determine where commercial breaks should appear during TV shows. With science, the possibilities are endless.
(Graph screenshot via "Computational Properties of Fiction Writing and Collaborative Work" paper.)