30. Mai 2019

How Do I Write a Bestseller?

Well, I don’t write bestseller(s). Certainly I never did. My few books are listed here, at http://joern.de/books.htm, and that’s it. But back to the question.
1. Diligence! You must work very hard. More than just due diligence. I didn’t even know the word. »Schleifen, schleifen, schleifen«, said my short-time mentor Margret Mellert. Work like an addict, like a madman, or like Thomas Mann did: “every morning, early”, in his room.
2. You must be mad, or at least heavily depressed. Never will a lucky man, a woman in love, a pilot in air produce fine fiction, just by “singing in the rain”. This applies to your first bestseller, I guess.
3. Study “creative writing”. Don’t think you are a genius.
3. And here the real trick. Use todays foremost style element: Drill Down. Pardon the technical expression. Involve the reader in the smallest of details, confuse her, or rather impress her with your finest knowledge of completely unnecessary details. Heshe will believe you, will adore the book. Fake news are simple. Believe only the complicated. Take things that nobody can check. They must appear true, real, realistic, authentic, wonderful – in their effect.
   Read a couple of bestsellers, and you’ll see: the method prevails. Allow me to ffer an example:
“A new thing to write”, 1945. Foto Wikipedia
   In “All the Light we Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, “a dazzling, epic work of fiction” playing in the early second world war, on page 286 you’ll read: “After several hours the commandant’s assistant calls him in and sets down his ballpoint and looks across his desk as tough Werner is one among a vast series …” etc. etc. The scene appears right before your reading eyes, virtual reality.
   Unfortunately I, personally I, saw my first ballpoint pen thrown into a cardboard box by a traveling jester in Bolzano in front of the train station, as a boy of six. To prove that the pen won’t ruin by falling on the floor, as pens with pens invariably would. This new pen still wrote after that use as a practical dart.
   Fortunatley I’m rather old: That was in 1947, the Giro d’Italia passed Bolzano. Biros became available in post-war Italy. A German commander would never have had a ballpoint, I’m 96.5 % sure.
   Bad luck. No setback to the bestseller though.

Thomas Mann ref.:

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