In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, one of my all-time favorite books, the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. Like all of life’s best jokes, it’s funny because it rings so true. Everything in life can be described mathematically, as it turns out—even literature.
In February’s Scientific American, there was an interesting article, by Mark Fischetti, about a study on the emotional story arcs of novels. It turns out that the vast majority of stories fall into only one of six tried and true emotional arcs.