Saturday, 21 December 2013

Word Counts

00:00:00 Posted by Ashley Lister , 2 comments
 by Ashley Lister

 I was going to be arsey about this week’s theme. I was going to moan about my working with words – not numbers. I was going to pretend that I have little to do with numbers because I’m a writer and writers work with words.

To evidence this, I looked at the book titles that currently sit on my reading list:
The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker.
Twenty Master Plots, Ronald B Tobias
36 Dramatic Situations, Georges Polti,
The Five Minute Writer, Margaret Gerharty

Obviously, I told myself, these titles weren’t indicative of all my books. Those titles were texts and more prone to the regimented values of numeracy. Literature doesn’t have such a dependency on numerical values. I went through a list of typical fiction titles from my personal bookshelves:
Five on a Treasure Island, Enid Blyton.
1001 Arabian Nights, Anonymous
’48, James Herbert
Three men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome.
Fifty Shades of Grey, E L James
The Life of Pi, Yann Martel

The precedent for numbers in literature was possibly set by Shakespeare with Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, (Part 1), Henry IV, (Part 2), Henry V, Henry VI, (Part 1), Henry VI, (Part 2), Henry VI, (Part 3), Richard III and Henry VIII.

Of course, the numbers in classic literature aren’t solely down to Shakespeare. Joseph Heller wrote Catch 22, George Orwell wrote 1984, Bram Stoker wrote Count Dracula and Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities.

This is a trend that’s carried over to graphic novels and comic books, 30 Days of Night, The Fantastic Four and 21 (The Story of Robert Clemente). It’s a trend that is endemic in films, not just with the annoying sequels (Titanic II, High School Musical 3, Friday the 13th Part 4) but in the body of the title itself: 101 Dalmatians, Fifty first dates, 51st State, 28 Days Later, 8 Mile etc…

So, whilst I could have been arsey about numbers, and claimed they have nothing to do with writing and words, I would have been wrong and the chances are, I would have made myself look like a right one.


Colin Davies said...

At last, you admit the importance of numbers.

Love this post.

This week has been fantastic.

Ashley R Lister said...

Numbers rule.

And you're right. It has been a pretty good week.