Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Writing Workout: Bestsellers

Analyze your favorite children's novel to see how it conforms (or doesn't) to the criteria identified by James W. Hall in Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Bestsellers (see my Monday post).  These features include:

  1. A page-turning "high concept."
  2. A controversial issue of the day.
  3. A setting against the backdrop of an important time or place in history.
  4. A main character ejected from his/her childhood home/country/Promised Land (e.g., Tara).
  5. High information about a topic the reader likely knows little about (nuclear subs, the Holy Grail).
  6. A secret society
  7. City mouse vs. Country mouse
  8. Grappling with one's concept of a higher power
  9. The American Dream (or nightmare)
  10. Rebels, misfits, loners -- characters who feel out of place among their peers
  11. Broken families
We can probably discount feature #12 -- sex -- when examining most books is this genre. :)

To be honest, most novels that I can think of aimed at kids over the age of 8 or 9 seem to meet at least half of these criteria.  Numbers 10 and 11 seem almost universal.

What do you think?  --Jeanne Marie

1 comment:

Tabatha said...

I can think of a lot of books where these are true, esp. 10 and 11 as you say. Earlier this week I was helping a young person with a project about Where the Red Fern Grows, which was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I haven't read the book in a long time, but I am not sure it matches any of these?