Plotting Plot


With the help of math and computers, a University of Nebraska English professor has been plotting the basic shapes of novels (spoiler: there are six), but this time in a new way. Instead of focusing on plot as action, Matthew Jockers is tracking the positive or negative charge of words to reveal plot as emotional movement. As Dan Piepenbring points out at the Paris Review blog, this could explain why some otherwise plot-less books can still keep readers engaged.

Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →