Monday, April 9, 2012

Commercial Appeal

Last week, on my writer's group email board, there was a discussion about why an author's book was ranked number one in libary sales.

We found this very perplexing because when we looked at the sample, the prose seemed very sloppy-- full of all the no no's that we rail against every Monday night at the St. Louis Writer's Guild. So, we asked ourselves, what is it that made this book so appealing.

Well for starters it is topical. I mean the plot most likely is ripped from today's headlines. Also, judging from the sample, there are plenty of thrilling action sequences filled with sexual sadism and other kinds of torture. So, based on just that, it is easy to see why this might be a best seller. But, is that all it takes?

I guess I am very curious, because deep down I want to be a very commercial writer; an underground quasi interesting one only carries you so far. So, I am very big on formulas and I have put together a list of qualities one must have to be commercially minded.

  1. Conscious effort: I don't believe this author wrote his book on accident. The little I have read had a deliberate feel to it.
  2. Meticulous planning: This writer is definately not an organic one. He is a heavy outliner right down to the last tee. Again, they plan their work and work their plan. They are in full control of their story and they don't deviate from it. They also are in control of their characters and their actions. The characters are clearly drawn and the reader is not in the dark as to what their goals and needs are.
  3. They are very cinematic(I like that word) Every scene could be a screenplay page. They have movies on the mind.
  4. They are very topical. Their stories come from today's headlines. So their plots are very sensational and familiar.
These are just a few things I could think of. Personally, with myself, if I want to be commercially successful, I will have forgo writing about clowns and broaden my audience.

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