The Guide to Writing An Acclaimed Bestseller: DaVinci Code Edition
Summary: I, Dorcas Meadowes, have officially hacked into Dan Brown's files and found this formula for success. Read this in lieu of Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, or even better, write one yourself!
Disclaimer—important: I greatly esteem Dan Brown, because of all of the mythology and symbolism that he puts in his stories; they are quite intelligent. But some of it is so like a trashy crime thriller and his two Robert Langdon books so generic, that I had to do this. Furthermore, my parodies of the Readers are not meant to cause offense and this does not reflect on what I actually think of these groups of people. On with the fic, and do not sue.
Writing A Bestseller, Part I: The Beginning
As all of your elementary school teachers used to say, you have to attract your readers, get their blood racing, and pester them so much with the mini-cliffy that they absolutely must buy the book, earning you more money. This usually takes the form of a heinous deed of some sort, including but not limited to: murder, burning a potentially vital insignia into the skin, and stealing chocolate. This formula has been found to help many authors.
Enter Evil Fanatic. Evil fanatic must be evilly handsome, but ugly on the inside by all the bad thoughts inside of him. He must be exotic in some sense, either having extremely dark or extremely light skin, with quite haunting eyes. He will be carrying some sort of weapon; guns are recommended, though white-hot brands are all right too.
In the building was the Very Prestigious Person. The Very Prestigious Person (otherwise referred to as Ancient!Gary Stu) is male, old, with silver and/or white hair, a fatherfigurethoughwedon'tknowityet, brilliant, and controversial. Apparently females can't be old, silver/white-haired, brilliant, and controversial.
Reader: This situation makes my heart thump! It makes fear race into my blood! It makes me want to enjoy the book! And I love exclamation points!
"Give me the password!" said the evil fanatic over the cowering Very Prestigious Person.
"No! I will die before I give you the password!" the old man shouted. "I mean…" he cleared his throat. "There is no password."
"I was afraid of that, old man." Said the Evil Fanatic. Taking his brand which was conveniently white-hot though there was no fire, he placed it on the man's old and wrinkly skin. Here, it is quite effective to put in imagery along the lines of "The smell of searing flesh went to the nostrils of the two men." No one actually knows what seared flesh smells like, but rest assured that it is quite sickening.
"Now give me the password." The Evil Fanatic demanded. Though he was quite knowledgeable about his fanatic, extremist, beliefs, I'm afraid that he did not need to have good vocabulary.
"Well, that's all right, I have the tools I need for this anyway." The Evil Fanatic shrugged. "I just like visiting old people and threatening them. They cower so nicely. Would you have the names of any good nursing homes, by the way?"
"My lips are sealed." The Very Prestigious Person said stubbornly.
"Are you sure?" The Evil Fanatic asked, smiling evilly as he held the weapon far too close to the Very Prestigious Person.
"Good God!" the Very Prestigious Person gasped. "Ah—let me think now. I think Landview is quite nice, though Ashton might be better. I really don't know—I'm in a far too good state of mind and body."
Despite the fact that he knew and told the very vital information (the part about the nursing homes), the Evil Fanatic shot the Very Prestigious Person and left the old man bleeding on the floor. I don't want to die! The Very Prestigious Person thought. Even though and especially since my secret dies with me! Luckily, the grotesque way in which my body is left on the floor will give DistinguishedGray! Gary Stu—I mean, investigators—many clues. It's a shame that she will never know that I—
Reader: This death is so sadistic! It makes me marvel at the twisted mind of the author! And now I feel bad that I'm enjoying the death of a helpless old man. I'm such a bad person! (Sobs)
Writing A Bestseller, Part I, Section B: Introducing the Gary S—I Mean, Hero
Meanwhile, all the way on the other side of the world…
It is best to have them on the other side of the world. This is to show what a nice, multicultural, enriching book this will be. It also increases the utter weirdness of the situation
A Distinguished!Gary Stu lay in his hotel bed thinking about his life; he heard that memoirs are the new "in" thing now, and is brainstorming. On the top of his stationary is written Perfection: The Life and Times of Bobert Langdon. He stared at his checklist:
· Include many pictures of myself (but not the ones that are naked and holding a broom)
· Include many pictures of myself with various good-looking characters that are intelligent
· Include lengthy explanations of my physique and various water sports
· Remember to talk about my kind, compassionate, sweet, humorous, generous, witty, modest personality
· Take down the phone numbers of all of the female professors who write about my book, and ask them to send pictures
· Talk about my life's work
As you could see, he was deep in thought.
And that was when the Summons came.
This could take the form of a knock at the door or a phone call, or even email. The last is not the best of options, because it leaves an unexciting night to write about when the Distinguished must think about himself, and it may actually lead to—character development. Besides, no one checks their email at night. A knock at the door, preferably a ramming down of it, and a phone call with a mysterious message gives much drama, and besides, if you got a weird email about saving the world—er, we mean, the death of a Distinguished Person, wouldn't you just delete it?
This Summons also gives plenty of room for a cliffhanger.
Anyway, Distinguished (henceforth known as his name, Bob) paced the room with his characteristic insomnia. He was a very good insomniac; his teachers had all praised him for it at school. As he waited for something to happen, he checked his e mail, read every book in his vast library covering the walls, checked himself out in the mirror, and adjusted the various certificates and plaques in the wall. He smiled fondly at one newspaper article, where he posed with the headmistress of his school. "I am proud to have known you," she had said in that soft, sweet voice of hers. He clasped her delicate hand in his own. "Thank you, ma'am," he had said, accepting his scented diploma. "Please—"she said breathily. "Call me Mary-Sue, you were a good student, after all—"
And that was when a gruff, loud, foreign voice said—
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