How are you feeling today? Mirthful and merry? Or morose and miserable? I do hope you are experiencing the former of the pair of descriptions. If not, I hope that a Pollyanna will happen along soon to brighten your day.
The four words I have chosen identify
moods at opposite ends of the happiness spectrum. In psychology terms they
reflect the emotional valence, whether positive or negative, of an event or a
Our choice of words impacts
on the way the reader perceives our stories. Recently, Professor Matthew
Jockers of the University of Nebraska analysed over 40,000 novels. By focussing purely on the positive or negative words used, the computer programme he devised studied the
emotional valence of each story. By so doing he has created an objective method
of tracking the emotional journey that the reader will experience as they read.
I failed to appreciate the lesson of Professor
Jockers’ research. I received a rejection on Friday of a short story I had submitted
to a magazine. The editor pointed out that there was too much negativity, reflected in my usage of words such as “bemoaned” and “rant”. My story
dealt with some difficult issues but it had an upbeat and positive
ending. Sadly this was overshadowed by my earlier choice of adverse words.
So I shall start my week with happy thoughts and
joyful words in the hope that my writing will reflect a more positive
Happy writing, everybody! Have a good day!