Elements of the Blockbuster Novel

As I was looking at my old notes, I found this interesting note I thought i’d share. What are the elements of a block buster novel?

Here are some qualities, by literary agent/editor Al Zuckerman from his book,  the Blockbuster Novel:

1. High Stakes
2. Larger Than Life Characters – do extraordinary things by what they yearn, they do crazy things
3. Dramatic Question
4. High Concept [can be far-fetched, like Da Vinci Code maybe?]

5. Setting – unfamiliar, exotic environments

Big Scenes have:

1. Startling surprise
2. Built around a powerful conflict
3. Substantially alters the situation, hopes and dreams
4. Extends over a few pages
5. Core action stems from a characters yearning from the other
6. Intense action and emotion

I remember some ideas when I was in UCR’s Creative Writing Program:

  • Color all description with emotion; stain words with emotion (according to Goldberry Long in Creative Writing 101)
  • Use Family stories – all people can relate (my screenwriting professor)
  • Drama = Desire x Drive + Danger
  • The goal of a story is to Reveal Character (hammered to us by Reza Aslan in Advanced Survey of Create NonFiction). In prose, there is DDAR: Description, Dialogue, Action & Reaction
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