I had the opportunity to hear best-selling author David Morrel (also known as “Rambo’s Daddy”) speak this past weekend–at Genre Fest, a joint event sponsored by the Colorado Authors League, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. His topic?
Writing the Best-Selling Novel
I’m not sure exactly what I expected from his talk–how-to tips, maybe, or the traits of best-sellers. And indeed, he spent the first half of the session talking about ways to “game the system” and become a best-seller. (Hint: find a niche that doesn’t already have authors who dominate that genre, or copy the latest best-selling success story. He didn’t advise these strategies, just pointed out that they’d worked for some authors.)
The real meat of his talk came in the second part of the morning, when he dove into why we might want to write best-selling novels. Citing the principles of neurolinguistic programming (NLP), he asked us two questions:
- What do you WANT?
- What will that DO FOR YOU?
If you want to write a best-selling novel, why? What are you hoping that will accomplish in your life? Do you hope it will give you fame? Fortune? Validation as a writer, or as a person?
Those things, Morrel said, aren’t enough.
Discover the answer to that question and you’ll discover the motivation you’ll need to take you through to writing THE END.
Discover Your True Subject
If you want a career as a novelist, you have to pay attention to you.” –David Morrel
Imitation might bring short-term success, but the real trick is figuring out what you have to say. Why is your subject important to you? What theme, idea, or emotion do you want to explore? Those are the things that will give you the steam to keep going. IMO, they’re also the things that will make people want to read what you write.
Morrel explained that you discover “your” subject by paying attention to yourself–your motivations, your fears and desires, the emotional undercurrents in your life. Daydream, he said. Pay attention to the mini-narratives that your subconscious creates when your mind wanders.
They’ll show you the way.
What do you want as a writer? And what will that thing–whatever it is–do for YOU?