“AGENCY IN CHARACTERS” REVISITED. The Bestseller Code algorithm says that whether or not a lead character will help a book sell depends on their “level of agency”. It measures “level of agency’ in the way computers measure things. It counts the number of active verbs associated with their name.
The algorithm thus singles out an aspect of the novel that I never thought about until Annalisa called my attention to it ten years ago. On December 13, 2006, to be exact, Annalisa authored a post on this blog entitled “AGENCY IN CHARACTERS”, in which she contended that she liked books in which characters took actions and made decisions. Annalisa quoted Diana Peterfreund, who had pointed out the importance of active characters and given the example of Alice in ALICE IN WONDERLAND as a passive character. Annalisa suggested this as the reason that she and I have never liked Alice in Wonderland. I agreed.