So, you wanna write like Rowling...
Or maybe, you just want to make that much money. Well, you're in luck, for Jane Espenson, "The Secret to Selling Sci-Fi: Fantasy Land" (The New Republic, August 7, 2007), has just revealed the secret to Rowling's success:
Write books that people want to read.
Nah, just kidding. That's not the secret, though most individuals who write books do write the sort that they seem to prefer go unread -- and not just scholars producing their academic tomes, either, but even writers of fiction, who one would ordinarily assume wish to produce bestsellers.
I blame the crit-lit theorists.
But you're still waiting for that secret. Okay, here it is, from Jane's Literary Advisory Services. Hold on, that link looks fishy. Here's the right one:
It's a very specific type of Hero's Journey, the most potent sub-case. It's told over and over again, and it works, over and over again .... [The heroes are] living a life, sometimes a fine one, often a troubled one, but certainly one governed by ordinary rules, when suddenly the curtain is pulled back and a whole new world, or a new set of rules of this world, is revealed. And what's more -- and this is the important part -- in that new world, they are something special. They are The Chosen One .... The Chosen One paradigm is the most positive, most comforting, most affirming metaphorical version of change, of growing up, that I can imagine .... [This paradigm] has obvious inherent appeal to children. They know that they're going to have to move into new worlds as they grow up, and they're scared. A story that tells them that when they arrive they're going to be recognized for the extraordinary person they hope they are, and that they're going to overcome all obstacles even if they're scared[, will push all the right buttons] .... [T]he big secret is that grown-ups are every bit as terrified of change as kids, and even more eager to imagine that the ordinary world might be replaced with somewhere in which their specialness is suddenly obvious .... So here's what I think we need to do if we want to write [a bestseller]. We need to start with an empty page of notebook paper, write "The Chosen One" across the top and start brainstorming.Espenson is writing tongue in cheek, but her central point is correct. The Hero's Journey paradigm of The Chosen One is widely appealing, so if you want to sell a lot of books and make a lot of money like J.K. Rowling has done, then you've got to tell a hero's tale.
Simple as Rowling off a log ... almost.
What you now must learn is the even more crucial secret to writing a hero's tale that sells millions and rakes in billions, and if you're interested in knowing that, then just send me a bank check for $50.00 -- a small investment -- and I'll reveal that secret to you alone since this is obviously not the sort of knowledge that we'd want to share with everybody.