Friday, January 14, 2005

Looking for a Good Idea?

Figuring out what is Selling in Fiction
is easy.
Begin by checking out the bookshelves for stuff like YOURS. Electronic as well as brick & mortar.
  • - Where is it in the store? The closer to the front of the store - or the top of the list, the more popular the genre or sub-genre.
  • - How big a section does this stuff command? The size of the section tells you how much competition you have.
  • - What section does it sell in, Fantasy, Erotica or Romance? This tells you how to Label it so that your readers can find you.
  • - Who is publishing it? This tells you Who to send your manuscript to.
  • - Do people talk about it? This tells you if people are actively Looking for what you have to sell.
READ every book like yours you can get your hands on.
  • - How is it like yours?
  • - How is it different?
  • - How is their grammar?
  • - How are the characters put together?
  • - How much Action verses how much Angst?
  • - How much Sex?
  • - How much technical ACCURACY? Does this author really know their shit or are they blowing smoke out of their asses?
Once you know the answers to these questions - you will know right then and there if Your Stuff Will Sell for one very good reason - Somebody bought THEIRS first. *grin*

Plots that Sell to Top-Pay MagazinesBy Charles Simmons(Sadly, "Plots That Sell" is out of print.)
  • The Child Matures
  • The Inexplicable Vice Is Revealed as a Virtue
  • The Mysterious Situation Is Explained
  • The Puzzling Identity Is Revealed
  • The Hero Is Freed from his False Belief
  • A Material Reward is Sought, and a Spiritual One Is Found
  • Biter — Bit
  • The Incompetent Hero Proves His Worth
  • The Impossible Assignment Is Accomplished
  • The Possible Assignment Is Accomplished
  • Friends or Lovers Quarrel and Are Reconciled
  • The Threatened Unity of the Family Is Re-established
  • The Evil of a Bad Man Asserts Itself
  • The Good-Bad Hero Comes to a Poignant End
  • The Virtue of the Tempted Hero Asserts Itself
  • The Aging Hero Finds Peace or Satisfaction
  • The Hero Chooses the Wiser Alternative or the Better Person
  • Girl Gets Boy
  • Boy Gets Girl
  • Boy and Girl Get Each Other
  • Boy Loses Girl
  • Girl Loses Boy
  • Boy and Girl Lose Each Other
  • The Hero Overcomes His One Failing
  • Happiness Is Relinquished Because of Duty
  • The Hero’s Doubt About Another Is Dispelled
  • A Facet of Human Nature Is Revealed
  • The Hero’s Vital Hope Wanes and Is Revived
  • The Validity of Magic Is Established

For those of you that want a simple strightforward answer to the burning quesion of

What Sells in Romance...
(from Patricia Ryan's "Pat's Premises: Popular Plots, Conflicts and Elements in Romance Novels," Romance Writers' Report, 17 (4), April 1997)

Forced Intimacy
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Bodyguard
  • Arranged or forced marriage
  • Pretend marriage
  • Stranded
  • Interferring Matchmaker
  • Must share office or home
Love Conquers All
  • Love Heals the Wounded Heart
  • Redeemed by Love
  • Amnesia
  • Physical disabilities
  • Emotional problems
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental illness
  • Alcoholism
  • Trust Issues
  • Commitment Issues
  • Emotional Detachment
  • Haunted by the past
  • Blame
  • Secrets
  • Unfinished Business
  • Lies
  • Unforgiven
  • Abandonment Issues
  • Unworthy
  • Fish out of water
  • Different worlds
  • At Cross Purposes
  • Bad vs. Good
  • Opposing loyalties
  • Business competitors
  • Opposing personalities
  • Age differences
  • Unrequited love - for someone else
  • Too Similar
  • Dominance Issues
  • Only one can achieve a shared goal
Babies and Children
  • Secret baby
  • Arranged pregnancy
  • Accidental pregnancy
  • Long lost child
  • Child plays matchmaker
  • Threatened or lost Child
  • Heroine plays nanny
Comedy of Errors
  • Heroine disguised as male
  • Mistaken identity
  • Misunderstandings
  • Masquerade
  • Twins
Mature Relationships
  • Friends fall in love
  • Reunited Lovers
  • Rediscovered Spouse
Mythic or Fairy Tale
  • Kidnapping (Persephone)
  • Taming of the savage male (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Transformation (Pygmalion)
  • Rags to Riches (Cinderella)
  • Emotional Awakening (Sleeping Beauty)

Polti and his 36 Plots.
Note: If you want a happy ending, you need Three Characters. Several of Polti's plots have only TWO characters and Two have FOUR. If you look, they’re all Tragedies - but one.

TWO Characters
Recovery of a Lost One - Seeker, One Found
This is the ONLY 2 Character plot with a Happy Ending!

Conflict with a God - Mortal, Immortal
Fatal Carelessness - Careless person, Victim
Pursuit – Fugitive, Pursuer
Disaster - Vanquished, Victorious or Messenger
Revolt - Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
Familial Hatred - Two Family Members who hate each other
Madness - Madman, Victim
Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune - Victim, Cruel person or Unfortunate event

THREE Characters
Supplication - Tormenter, Suppliant, an Authority
Assassination – Assassin, Victim, Instigator of Slaying
Revenge - Avenger, Offender, Victim
Adultery - Deceived Spouse, Adulterer, Instigator of Adultery
Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One - Instigator of Dishonor, Discoverer, Loved one
Deliverance - Victim, Menace, Rescuer
Vengeance by Family upon Family - Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
Daring Enterprise - Bold Adventurer, Goal, Adversary
Abduction - Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
Enigma - Instigator, Seeker, Cause of Puzzling Situation
Obtaining - Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
Familial Rivalry - Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object or person desired by both
Murderous Adultery - Two Adulterers, Betrayed Victim
Involuntary Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Revealer
Kinsman Kills Unknown Kinsman - Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
Sacrifice for an Ideal - Hero, Instigator of Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
Sacrifice for Kindred - Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
All Sacrificed for Passion – Instigating Lover, Beloved, Person or Thing Sacrificed
Sacrifice of Loved One - Hero, Beloved Victim, Instigator of Sacrifice
Rivalry Between Superior and Subordinate - Superior, Subordinate, Desired Object, Person or Position
Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Instigator of Dissolution
Obstacles to Love - Lover, Beloved, Obstacle Person or Situation
An Enemy Loved - Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
Ambition - Ambitious Person, Adversary, Coveted Thing or Person
Remorse - Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
Loss of Loved Ones - Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Instigator of Death

FOUR Characters
Mistaken Jealousy - Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Author of Mistake, Instigator of Jealousy
Faulty Judgment - Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person

Morgan Hawke

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