Writerly Things…11/19/18 Four Key Ingredients Your Novel Needs
To become a bestseller, Donald Maas believes you must have four key ingredients.
Could it have really happened? Of course, this will be different depending on the genre your writing in, but your story must seem, given this situation, and these circumstances that it might happen. For instance, The Hunger Games is a story based on what our future might be like, given those conditions. Katniss Everdeen would not have become a hero she was if she didn’t live in District 12 and love her sister. Lord of the Rings would not have given Frodo such far-reaching goals if the world he lived in was all peachy keen. So, take a look at your story and consider if it could have happened with the events you relate.
- Inherent conflict
The next question Maas says to ask is: Does the world have conflict built into it? A story without conflict is just a series of events going nowhere. Conflict is very important. It draws the readers in, makes them worry for the character/s. For example: Gone with the Wind. Without the background of the Civil War, Scarlett would have no motivation to become the survivor she does at all costs. In The Stand, the survivors of the super flu would’nt have a reason to band together to fight the Walking Dude.
While they say there are no new plots under the sun, you have to come up with a fresh angle for your story to seem original. Doing so may make your novel a breakout success. For instance, in Tiffany Sly Lives Here, the heroine’s mother has died from cancer and she must learn to live in the father’s household who she knew nothing about. All their rules stifle her. And there’s a pressing secret that just might send her down the rabbit hole. By a Charm and a Curse takes place in a traveling circus. The hitch here is that the circus is under a curse. The performers are protected from all types of harm until the new girl in the box comes along and things start to fall apart.
- Gut Emotional Appeal
This is about all the feels. Do your readers care what happens to your character/s? Would the Harry Potter series be so popular if the readers didn’t care what happened to Harry, Hermoine, and Ron? Each book pushes them into further harm and when they’re able to overcome each obstacle and succeed, the readers cheer them on. In the Grishaverse series, what would happen if no one cared about Alina? The world she’s in is so complex and full of the conflict above with her dealing with the Darkling, we can’t help but turn the pages, hoping she defeats him. Make your characters sympathetic, bold, and appealing and you might have a best seller on your hands.
How are everyone’s projects coming along? I’m still editing and trying to pack everything I’ve learned in the past months, years, into the story. Of course, I know there will come a time when I have to let it go. It won’t be perfect, no one can achieve that, but it will be as good as I can make it. There has been a snow/rain/sleet mix going on here for days now. I hate winter travels. I always white-knuckle it, lol. On the other hand, mowing’s done for the year! Enjoy Thanksgiving! Have a great week, take care, and God bless!