You’ve no doubt heard writers say of a bestseller, “So-and-so is such a poor writer–he/she must have had an ‘in’ with an editor to get published.” While it is true that “who you know” matters, most novels which achieve bestseller status have at least one of two things: A great story, or a timely subject.
Writing Tip for Today: It’s tempting to grouse about successful books which don’t meet our writing standards. A little jealousy may be necessary in keeping writers honest and always striving to write better stuff. If you’re convinced a book shouldn’t be popular based on the writing ability of the author, it may be more productive to look beyond sentence structure and ask why the novel succeeds.
- Story Wow. Is the story, character or novel structure unique and irresistible in some way? Readers will overlook pedestrian writing if the character is strong enough and the story has a compelling conflict at its center.
- Ride the Trend. Is the novel hot because it is derivative? They say the Beatles were successful partly due to their timing. Vampire stories have been able to cash in on Stephanie Meyers’ success in recent years. No doubt the Next Big Thing is already on the way. Your story may have to wait for the right time in order to get the attention it deserves.
- Excellence, Always. Go ahead and lament the rise of fads and trends in publishing. But strive for excellence. Keep refining your style through lots of reading and writing. Find a mentor, a good critique group or take some classes. If you aim to be the best writer you can be, then when the type of story you write is in demand, you’ll have the skills to wow readers with a killer story and some beautiful prose.