Tuesday, August 2

Chapter 20

In Which, After a Long Absence, The Ranting Continues

There are few things more frustrating to a writer as not having the time or inspiration to write... or, worse yet, a combination of the two; and yet, such has been the case for me recently.

It started in my early childhood -- I was a small boy then. I didn't like to write, and followed the saying of Alice from the story:
What's the use of books, thought Alice, without any pictures in them?
But in time I cam to realize the truth:
Pictures cost less money than words do.
Yes, the money is not in some fancy-schmancy kids book fad that will pass in a year, or once somebody makes a stupid knock-off film about it, but in writing paperbacks where you can recycle everything but the name of the main character, and sell millions of the same story with different titles.
Take your average dime-store novel, and break it down.
First, the Hero. His name starts with a "J" if the book is to be popular. Not a fanciful name like Jerome, or Jethro, or Jephzibah, but something common. Jon, Jim, Jack, Joe, Jake, Jip, or Jeff. The shorter the name the better. This leading male is tall, dark haired, fair complexioned, and has a nose like a hawk, or, even better, "acqualine" -- which is French for "worn close to the face" -- he is usually handsome and has a chisled jaw. He doesn't wear Hawaiian shirts, but at one point he wears a tuxedo.
Next comes the side-kick. His name can be unusual, in fact, the more bizzarre the better. He or she is your selling point. Dorminander is a good unisex name, so is Samonilla, for that matter. The sidekick is shorter, and has a lisp, or severe overbite, or is a moron, or wears thick coke-bottle glasses, or is a Democrat. They are to be described as "non-descript" so that they can, at some point in the story, slip in and out of a large crowd to lose the villians. But, whatever you do, DO NOT KILL THE SIDE-KICK! This ruins the story, and gets rid of your comic relief, and a quick way to add "back-story." ("This reminds me of the time Jock and I saved the Queen from the Head-hunters while we were backpacking in Mogadishu...")
Third comes the villian. Now the villian can be named anything, but it helps if he is a jerk, and a bit of a snob, and has lots of money to hire "hired assassins." He will look "sinister" and wear black, or a nice suit -- even in the middle of the desert -- and will have monologues from time to time to tell how he does everything so it doesn't become a guessing game for the reader ("I'm going to saw you in half then feed you to my robot-monkeys! I am the greatest! Buy Coke-a-cola! Then I will conquor the world!" Etc.).
Last, but not least, the love interest. This is a simple girl with a name saying "I'm old fassioned, but can fight my way out of a cardboard box if I need to." Clementine, Molly, Hepzibah, Alice, Dorcas, or Norma are good names -- Jan, Sam, Lynn, Bo, or Ivy are not (she needs at least two syllables in her name for believability). Also, don't spell her name funny ways, because the reader will have trouble with it (i.e., if the character is named "Jennifer," don't spell it with silent J's or K's, and no adding extra E's or H's). She is to be a "rather homely girl" who turns out to be a "rare beauty" whenever she puts her hair down -- think Clark Kent and Superman...
The basic plotline is this:
  1. Something gets stolen, or someone is kidnapped by "henchmen"
  2. Hero hears about it, and gets involved by accident
  3. Side-kick slips through a crowd "un-noticed" and discovers vital information from a monologue from the villian.
  4. Love interest gets kidnapped.
  5. Hero has to make the choice between saving the girl he loves, or saving the other thing/person
  6. Hero kills/captures villian, and saves both.
  7. Side-kick says something pithy
  8. Ending is vague, leaving room for a sequel, or series deal.

So, there you have it. A sure-fire money-maker novel!

But you didn't hear that from me...


At 10:15 PM, Blogger Justin said...

So true. Now you've inspired me to write a best-selling novel.


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