Thursday, June 22, 2006

John Jenkins – On Writing A Bestseller

The highlight of my year is going to Caerleon Writer’s Holiday. It is the best Writing conference I have ever been to and being a bit of a course junky, I’ve been to quiet a few. Not only are the courses and seminars good but also, the atmosphere is brilliant. There is no comparison. Everyone is so friendly and approachable.

Last year at Caerleon, I heard John Jenkins the editor of Writer's Forum magazine, speak about 'Teaching Yourself To Write A Bestseller'. He said that The Di Vinci Code by Dan Brown is the best teach yourself manual you could buy. It is a masterclass on how to write a bestseller.

With reference to the Di Vinci Code, John Jenkins advice was:

  • If you want to write a big book, pick a big theme.
  • Write rich characters with rich backgrounds (and I don’t think he was talking about money.)
  • Finish each chapter on a cliffhanger.
  • The plot must race along at breakneck speed.
  • Mix fact with fiction so that the reader does not know where the truth ends and the fiction starts.
  • Be clear of all the underlying themes and what is going on in the background.
  • Look at the opening – does it grab you?
  • Think about the title.
  • A good story has a great plot and loads of action.
  • Be careful the ending is not an anti-climax.
  • Make up your own secret society if you want.
  • The ‘What if…?’ button, is the most important key on the keyboard.

I thought this was a very useful checklist when writing, or reading, any book or manuscript, whether it is for children or adults and considering it’s potential on whether it will sell. It is also interesting to compare it to what Tony Bradman said in his Summary of Common Pitfalls and Rachel Wade's Advice.


Jude said...

Anita, thanks for the tips. They are really useful. I hadn't heard of the Caerleon course. How is it arranged?

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

Hi Jude,
For more details about the Caerleon Writer's Holiday see:
All the best,