the golden ratio (for writing!)

What is the golden ratio?

The golden ratio is a pattern found in nature, a proportion that is found aesthetically pleasing to the eye. To put it very, very simply, it’s a ratio of 1:1.618 (the latter number is an irrational number called phi, but let’s skip the math). You find this proportion everywhere, the human body, seashells, architecture, web design, music, even.

I’ve mentioned before my suspicion that the golden ratio could be applied to writing composition; now, I’ve found a way to apply it to plot. I’ve made a small, simple javascript function that takes in the intended word count length of your project, the number of major events in your novel, and plots out where they should occur by the golden ratio. Since WordPress is silly and won’t let me add raw javascript to my blog directly, I’ve added it to my (yet unfinished) website.

The Golden Ratio, for writing

For instance, NaNoWriMo is coming up. This is the output for three events in a 50,000 word book:

0 words – The Beginning
22360 words – Event 1
36179 words – Event 2
44720 words – Event 3
50000 words – The End

So according to the golden mean, my first big event should happen around the 22,360 word mark, my second around 36k.

This is purely theoretical, but from what I’ve seen of it, the numbers look like they’d do for a nice composition. Take a look, and tell me what you think!

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5 thoughts on “the golden ratio (for writing!)

  1. Interesting! I tried it out on my WIP, which is planned to be around 90K and has six major events in the outline:

    0 words – The Beginning
    35603 words – Event 1
    57606 words – Event 2
    71205 words – Event 3
    79609 words – Event 4
    84803 words – Event 5
    88013 words – Event 6
    90000 words – The End

    It’ll be interesting to see how well it matches up as I write it. 😀

    • It will be interesting. Keep in mind, though, it probably breaks if you put in too many plot twists. This only leaves you with two thousand words for the resolution.

  2. I like this quite a lot. I think it would make the most sense if used in a self-publishing format. Otherwise of course it would fall apart when it was edited and they put in however many words they wanted…but this…yes, I do like it.

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