Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What Bad Books Have That Good Books Don't

What sells books?  

Its the question that haunts writers of all kinds.  Loads of great writing never gets published.  Loads of great published writing never gets popular.  And loads of horrible published writing becomes popular and turns into movies and the like.

Not fair, yes, but that's how it works.

What I have noticed, however, is that a lot of mediocre fiction gets published and gets fairly popular.  Us writers read said book and go, "Ugh!  The writing is horrible!", yet there are still millions of readers (many of whom don't read that much) that have picked up that same story and read it.


My theory: easy reading and relatable characters. 

The easy reading part is obvious. The masses aren't going to pick up a book that is complex and difficult to read.  So, that's an easy one.

The character aspect I think may be more debatable, but I argue that it's validity because I've seen the pattern in humans: we love community.  We love not knowing we're the only one with our problems.  We desire company on a difficult path.  We thrive in positive relationships, even if they are difficult.

Think about the books that made it in the last decade:  Harry Potter, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Hunger Games, Twilight, Percy Jackson, just to name a few.  Sure, those books had a fairly decent plot and a tolerable voice.  But what made people love those books?  The characters in them.

My stress in this blog is therefore, mainly, on character.  I believe that as writers, we have this immensely amazing opportunity to learn about people.  To learn about relationships.  And we get to learn about these things not necessarily from a psychological point of view, but from a human's perspective. We get to learn about people.

The best way to do that is to invest in the people around you.  Its not networking or using anyone; its simply being observant and making a point to be there for others.  You just happen to write about people too.  Its sort of like being a counselor or a therapist.

Anyway, that's sort of why I write about life as often as I do.  I write about life because my life is filled with people, and I love learning about people.  In fact, I think that is why I write. 

Soli Deo Gloria.