For part 1 of Best Selling Books Secret #2 click here.
Ingredient 7: Town vs. Country
In these best sellers there is typically a character who sets off on a journey, a call to adventure beyond the surroundings of his or her smaller world. It is the same journey that Joseph Campbell describes in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Christopher Vogler describes in The Writer’s Journey.
In these stories the hero or heroine will travel back and forth from city to country and vice versa so they are “fish out of water” and have to adapt to their surroundings.
Ingredient 8: Religion vs. Human Secularism
Best sellers tend to feature religion in prominent ways, consistently criticizing orthodox religious practice and the dangers of zealotry. As Hall says, “novels that place a heavy emphasis on religious themes certainly attract readers who might otherwise avoid novels altogether.”
Ingredient 9: American Dream & American Nightmare
We love stories portraying the rise to power from humble beginnings to fight injustice and we are also fascinated by stories of people’s fall from power as well.
We love stories that show us that, as Hall puts it, “even the poorest and most disenfranchised among us can achieve prosperity, material wealth, and personal freedom.”
And then we love to see them fall.
Ingredient 10: A Dozen Mavericks
Of the 12 best selling books Hall discusses, the hero’s are “all rebels, loners, misfits or mavericks”. These characters march to the beat of their own drummer. They don’t fit in to the social puzzle around them and that is why they are loved so much.
Ingredient 11: Fractured Families
For example, Scarlett O’Hara loses three husbands and a daughter all while wasting her life chasing a man she finally realizes she never truly loved…and the rest of the characters fall quickly into line behind her.
Ingredient 12: Just In Case You Forgot…Sex Sells
- The supposed rape of a white woman by a black man in To Kill A Mockingbird
- Mitch McDeere’s dalliance on the beach in John Grisham’s The Firm
- The extramarital affair around which The Bridges of Madison County revolves
So that’s it? That’s all I need to do to write best selling books? Well, no. But it is a start.