The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recipe for a Best-Seller

By Andrew Tibbetts

I’m a hurting for cash so I thought I’d write a best-seller this past long weekend. I did a little research, taking a look at the top ten bestselling books in Canada (according to The Canadian Booksellers Association.)

1. The Appeal (John Grisham); $CDN $33; Doubl; 9780385515047
2. Late Nights on Air (Elizabeth Hay); $CDN 32.99; McCle; 9780771038112
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini); $CDN 34; Pengu; 9780670064915
4. World Without End (Ken Follett ); $CDN 42; Dutto; 9780525950073
5. Duma Key (Stephen King); $CDN $32.00; Simon; 9781416585558
6. 7th Heaven (James Patterson); $CDN $32.50; Littl; 9780316017701
7. Divisadero (Michael Ondaatje); $CDN $34.99; McCle; 9780771068720
8. For One More Day (Mitch Albom); $CDN $24.95; Hyper; 9781401303273
9. Confessor (Terry Goodkind); $CDN $32.95; Tor; 9780765315236
10. Playing for Pizza (John Grisham); $CDN 26.95; Doubl; 9780385525008

I haven’t read any of them but with a bit of googling I think I’ve gotten the gist. We have: a legal thriller; a story about a radio D.J. set in Yellowknife; a mother-daughter thing set in Afganistan; something historical about four children who witness a murder in 1327 and then stuff happens to them as adults; a horror thingy about a guy who loses an arm and learns to paint haunted pictures while recuperating; some women detectives investigate arson; some girls as close as twins have a love triangle and then grow up; a mother and son reconnect in the afterlife; a sword and sorcery fantasy epic clash of civilizations; a football player romps through Italy.

No doubt I've gotten something horribly wrong about each of them, but that’ll just help keep the plagiarism lawsuits at bay.

I pulled something from each, spun them slightly, and wove them all together. Here’s what I got:

An investigative journalist, Susan Stamatis, is called home to Nunavut for her father’s funeral. She suspects something isn’t right about the fire that destroyed the family restaurant and killed her father. Susan begins to look into the situation despite the protests of her mother to leave well enough alone. While there she gets to spend more time with her younger brother, once a promising athlete, who lives in a strange fantasy world (is he Aspergers or schizophrenic or some other diagnosis or is he just eccentric or perhaps brain-damaged from a sports injury? Not sure.) The sword and sorcery epic he spins her appears to give clues to some of their own family secrets. Susan decides to voyage back to Greece to explore the truth. There, she learns that her father had an identical twin brother who was at one point engaged to her mother. There was a family scandal involving arson and a trial. Also there she believes she is contacted by the ghost of her father who keeps showing up in her dreams in flames.

There! How does that sound? Go ahead and write it if you’d like- it’s all yours. I couldn’t be bothered. Send me 10% of your sales or make a donation to Pen Canada to help jailed or exiled writers around the world. Or keep it all to yourself and smother your guilty feelings with decadent escapades.

That’s going to be my best-seller: a struggling but serious writer whimsically blogs off the idea for a best-seller one night. A reader of his blog takes it and makes a killing, refusing to acknowledge where he got the idea. The blog-reader lives a life of decadent splendour until the money runs out. Then he is forced to crawl back to the blogger to beg forgiveness and to get an idea for a second best-seller. Ironically, he finds the blogger has been driven mad by jealousy and frustration.


Blogger Anne C. said...

That plot sounds strangely doable.

Wed Feb 20, 07:00:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger MelBell said...

Well this got my day off to a laughy start!

Wed Feb 20, 08:14:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger T. Lee said...

Yes, Anne, the first one is almost a Mordecai/Cohen/Ondaatje-y thing. The second one, the one where the blogger goes crazy, is likely the best-seller that'll make millions, particularly from the JJ Abrams movie it inspires.

Wed Feb 20, 01:19:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Ruth Taylor said...

Haha! When I first started reading I thought you were going to find some common element. But it is much better to just string all the uncommon elements together!

Wed Feb 20, 01:23:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Chumplet said...

Now THAT's a story!! The first scenario reminds me of the Canadian Identity.

Wed Feb 20, 05:57:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

I think it's genius, Andrew. And it would make a cool movie as well, which means even more money. Tamara and I think alike. Just think of the cool imagery!

Andrew, I should just get you to write blurbs like this for me, then I can have a starting point.

Fri Feb 22, 02:40:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

This is laugh out loud funny, Andrew. Thanks!

Wed Feb 27, 09:25:00 pm GMT-5  

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