Dear Author Margo,
I’m almost out of college, but before I graduate I want to write a novel that sells lots of copies and will be turned into a big movie. What should it be about?
Dear Future MFA Candidate,
If I had the answer to that question, I wouldn’t be blogging it. I’d hold a $500 seminar at local airport hotel and force people to buy copies of my self-published book How to Write a Bestseller that Will Be Made into a Hollywood Blockbuster. Non-fiction, of course. As I don’t have the gumption to self-publish and I want answer your question, I’ll do my best to do so while not revealing too much from my forthcoming non-fiction book, How to Write a Bestseller that Will Be Made into a Hollywood Blockbuster.
What you need to do is come up with something that will get editors excited. A few years ago they were all hot and bothered by vampires. While that genre is dying a very slow death, it’s still a good example to work off of. The catch is you can’t just write about vampires vamping around. Sucks, right? Nope there has to be a concept and a story behind the undead’s shenanigans and this is where things get tricky.
Coming up with a compelling concept (what your story is about) and story (a beginning, middle and end that delivers on your concept) is where a lot of writers get stuck. Unfortunately, having a great concept is not the same thing as a compelling polished 80,000-100,000 word story. The wonderful thing is that if your concept is stellar enough, your story (and writing skills) can suck like a hungry vampire. This is why editors get paid big bucks. It’s their job to, you know, fix stuff.
Of course, there’s a chance that by the time you’re done with your vampire novel, the publishing world will have already moved on to the next thing. (Maybe even onto books about people doing people things and leading people lives!) But there is a simple solution for that problem. All you have to do is run a Find/Replace on your manuscript and sub in fireman, werewolf, angry yoga instructor, plushie enthusiast or whatever occupation or lifestyle choice is trending and you’re set.
Honestly, writing a book isn’t rocket science (but you’d be surprised as to how many authors happen to be failed rocket scientists), it’s just typing. And, it seems, that you at least learned to type in college. Good for you.
Next week: The That’s Not Fair Question