How to write a novel that sells (after all, isn’t that the goal of every aspiring novelist)?
Figure out how to write a novel that isn’t boring.
In other words, write
Now, one of the best ways to write
a page-turner (or a novel that sells) is a
little secret or technique called “raise the stakes.”
Raising the stakes is a strategy best understood by top
screenwriters, producers, and directors in Hollywood
(although raising the stakes isn’t a technique
reserved for blockbusters).
In fact, you better master this technique
if you want to know how to write a novel that sells.
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How to Write a Novel that People Want to Read
Raising the stakes isn’t about style.
It’s about story.
Raising the stakes is, simply,
putting more “at stake” in the story…
When you raise the stakes, the protagonist has
more to lose if he or she doesn’t succeed. When you
raise the stakes, the other characters have more at stake.
And (most important), when you raise the stakes the
reader has more at stake (he/she becomes more engaged
emotionally, more attached to the ultimate outcome).
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How to Write a Novel that Sells – Raise the Stakes
When you raise the stakes, your story becomes
much more interesting and unusual.
Don’t delude yourself.
No matter how original your characters are,
every theme has already been explored in fiction.
So you have to find a way to make your
“timeless” theme(s) more “timely.”
If you want to get people’s attention,
and learn how to write a novel that sells.
Raise the stakes.
But, how do you do that… exactly?
The best example that I can think of is the American action
movie Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) starring Nicolas Cage,
Angelina Jolie, and Robert Duvall.
In short, it’s a story about a car thief… filled with car chase
scenes. But that’s not what “drives” the story (pun intended).
The author understood that nobody cares about some random
guy stealing cars. So he did a “few” creative things to raise the stakes:
- The car thief doesn’t want to steal the cars (he’s being forced to steal them)
- If he fails, his brother will be murdered (how’s that for motivation?)
- The brother won’t be killed painlessly with something like a bullet to the head
(he’ll be crushed in a car compactor)
- The protagonist is a retired car thief who’s “gone straight”
- The car thief isn’t ordered to steal one car (or even a few), but fifty
- The cars to be stolen are some of the most exotic and inaccessible cars on the planet
- Three of the cars are in a police impound lot
- The car thief has already failed to steal one of the cars several times in the past already
(a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500, codename “Eleanor”)
- The thief has only 24 hours to complete the job
- Unable to pull off the job alone, the thief must get his friends and ex-girlfriend to help
- The detective in town knows who the thief is and has him under surveillance
Makes things just a little more interesting, doesn’t it?
Even if you’re not a fan of action movies and/or blockbusters,
you have to admit that all these little twists that “raise the stakes”
would ratchet up anyone’s interest and excitement.
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How to Write a Novel that Will Attract Agents and Publishers – Raise the Stakes
Raising the stakes isn’t “selling out.”
It’s making your story more meaningful and interesting.
When you raise the stakes you make it more likely that you’ll write a novel
that will be published in hardcover instead of just paperback.
When you learn how to raise the stakes, you’ll be much more likely to learn how to write a novel that sells… one that’s also more likely to be adapted into feature film instead of a television movie.
When you learn how to raise the stakes, you’ll be more likely
to learn how to write a novel that will be published by
a major publisher instead of a minor publisher.
In fact, when you learn how to raise the stakes you make it more
likely that you’ll learn how to write a novel that will be
So, if you’re wondering…
How can I write a book that sells?
Raise the stakes,
Your “Undercover” Agent
P.S. – Gone in 60 Seconds grossed $25,336,048 opening weekend, leading all other films during that time.
P.P.S. – If you thought this article was valuable, check out out this one called How to Write a Book that Sells: Understanding High-Concept.
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So my writing addiction grew out of spinning yarns. I prided myself in making the everyday events of my life into dramatic and hair-raising stories. My ultimate payoff was being asked “Did that really happen?” The answer was always a smile – Now, as I put them in print, I am constantly asked “Is this the story of your life?” Should I continue being coyly vague or Is this a sign that I’m writing in 1st person too much?
Hi Bruce, this is one of the questions where I’ll have to say (at least for now)… it depends. That type of decision can be both business and personal. So it’s going to depend on the nature of the autobiographical material, and what you’re hoping to accomplish and/or avoid. Saying something is based on, or inspired by, true events can be a plus. Other times it can hurt your chances of selling a book or engaging readers.
If you want help with anything else, you can post another question for me online here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/ask/. You can also (if you haven’t done so already) get access (no cost) to all the valuable resources in our private, members-only area here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/membership/. And you can register for an introductory coaching call with me here: http://thebestsellingauthor.com/coaching/intro-call/.
Have a great weekend… and I hope you’ll join me later this morning for my Internet radio show if you can. My wife and business partner (Ingrid Elfver) will be joining me to answer questions about writing, publishing and/or promoting books. You can ask us pretty much anything. Either way, I’m looking forward to learning more about you and your work.
And Happy Holidays!
The Bestselling Author
Literary Agent Undercover
When the American in Brazil hooks up with a beautiful young woman who seduces him, he finds himself not only in Love but in a love triangle and a land war. How’s that?
Hi William, spoke to this in my last comment. Mark
I like this article. Very motivating.
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