What works for any other bestseller? All the other bestsellers?
In his book, Writing the Blockbuster Novel (Writer’s Digest books, 1994) Altert Zuckerman lists the blockbuster’s two essential elements:
- The writing. Blockbuster novels need larger-than-life characters, a dramatic question, an exotic setting, and high stakes.
- The $500,000 advance. Blockbuster novelists need LARGE checks.
Since my life as a #1 has given rise to my need for #2, I’ve decided to write a blockbuster best seller. While some critics feel the public demands originality, others believe that authors should only write about extraordinary events they have personally experienced. However, this approach does not explain the continued success of popular fiction authors such as Robert Ludlum (who has published an impressive 31 books since his death in 2001), the Victoria’s Secret Catalog, Sean Hannity, or Donald Trump.
Therefore, for those readers who demand the cutting-edge of literary offerings with the comfort of familiarity, I offer excerpts from my new and totally original opus:
DISCLAIMER: Some thoughts and dialogue attributed to figures in this narrative were created by the author, based on such research and her knowledge of relevant people, places, and things.**
** [My publishers may demand a disclaimer like the one attached to Joe McGinniss’ book, “The Last Brother” just because McGinniss quotes thoughts he “…sensed Teddy [Kennedy] must have been feeling.” Therefore, those passages which may not be strictly autobiographical, such as the thoughts I sensed God must have been feeling, have been marked with **]
Barb, a tall, slender, striking blonde, was sitting with her four tall, slender, healthy blonde children on her striking blonde** sofa in her immaculate, tastefully decorated home reading them Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
**[Okay, so the sofa is actually beige. Sue me.]
Suddenly, Mars went retrograde. In the eerie silence which followed, Barb noticed that not only was water flooding out of the bathroom, but she was a lot shorter and darker. Her skin started to break out too. “Mama, our throats hurt,” whimpered her children.
“Fiddle-dee-dee,” she replied. “We’ll cry tomorrow. Right now, I’ll have to fix the toilet.” After a brief meditation on the sacred texts—The Reader’s Digest Book of Home Repair—Barb groaned. “Plumber’s snakes… Why does it always have to be snakes?” Soon, she had to admit defeat. “Swim toward the car, kids, and we’ll go for help.” But as the car wheezed slowly out of the garage, Barb knew there was only one man who could help her. “We’ll have to get it to Rick’s Car Repair Americain & Foreign.” As they arrived, she heard Rick murmur, “Of all the car repair joints in all of the midwest, why did she have to end up here?”
“You’re the only one who can help my carburetor. Please do whatever it takes to get us out of here,” Barb whispered meaningfully when she handed over her credit card. As she left, Rick was telling the Visa people, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Arriving home, penniless and alone—the kids took her last $20 and all her two-fer coupons to ChuckUp-Cheeze, and her Prince Charming was, of course, attending a work conference in a foreign country—Barb knew there was only one thing left to try. ”I’ll call the Appliance Astrologer.”
Half an hour later, the repairman had arrived. [**Fiction, remember we’re talking fiction here…] His ruggedly handsome features creased with concern, he read the charts of the dishwasher (which had water flowing out of it) and the ice-maker (which didn’t).
“Are you feeling lucky today?” he asked Barb.
“Don’t try to spare me,” she replied. “I can take the truth. How much longer do they have?”
“Well, I did dig out this wad of Plaster of Paris which had blocked your sink. But the fact is that the universe is against you—Mars is retrograde until March 5, and with your sign being Virgo it means that appliances and communication will be in danger till then.” He glanced apprehensively at the TV and the microwave blinking “12:00, 12:00, 12:00…”, while in the background the toilet ran softly. Holding his appliance-scrying crystal between them, he started backing toward the door.
“No, don’t leave me like this,” begged Barb. “What if the stove goes too?”
“We’ll always have the Plaster of Paris,” he said as he repeatedly tried to start his truck in her driveway. “And if you need me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?”
“Does this mean the phone’s broken too?” Barb sobbed. “But… I’ve just realized that it’s my mobile phone I truly love. What will I do?”
“Frankly, my dear,” his voice floated back as he drove off into the (family friendly) sequel,”I don’t give a gosh darn.”
Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for that big advance.
Right, publishers? Hello? Anybody?