Thursday, November 01, 2012

Di Morrissey's five rules for writing a bestselling book

Di Morrissey
Author Di Morrissey in Burman and her new novel. 
  • Writing is a gift but everyone has a story
  • Put words down on paper no matter what
  • Every story needs a great love triangle
SHE'S written 20 best sellers in 20 years with each new book outselling the previous one and, now, Di Morrissey is at it again.

On the brink of touring the nation for the launch of her 21st novel, The Golden Land, Morrissey is quietly confident her newest title about an Australian woman who discovers a family connection to Burma will be as successful as all her others.
So, what's the secret?
How does a girl from New South Wales's mid-north coast continue to be one of Australia's most popular female novelists?
"For a start, I think writing is a gift,'' Morrissey says.
"You are a either a story teller or you are not. I think you have to have an inner ability to be able to entertain people, to tell a story that keeps readers wanting to turn the page.''
But before she deflates the hopes of millions of aspiring authors, Morrissey says she also believes everyone has a story in them - an interesting event in their past, a compelling family history or just a cracking good yarn - and some storytelling skills can be learned.
"Then the trick is to find a really good editor to help you and not to be precious about changing your work,'' she says.
For anyone aspiring to become a bestselling author, here's a few tricks of the trade from one of Australia's enduring publishing success stories.

Rule number one - find a story you believe in.
"Stories can't be artificially formulated,'' Morrissey says. "There are people who buy a successful book and analyse the way it's written and then try to emulate it but readers have an innate sense of what's genuine and what comes from the heart.''
A good story, she explains, rests on a person captured in certain particular circumstances which drive them to do something.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be really dramatic - but it does have to have highs and lows. There needs to be a temperature chart that registers when things heat up and cool off,'' she says.
"One way to do that is to finish each chapter with a cliff hanger like they do in soap operas - another character comes in and throws doubt on a situation somehow. That makes the reader curious and want to read on.''
Rule number two - create your main protagonist.
"This is the key, the hardest thing to do,'' Morrissey says. ``It has to be someone the reader cares enough about - whether they love or loathe them - to want to follow.
"It can be someone dying in a hospital bed or someone in a terrible situation - you set up a situation where the reader immediately wonders what will happen to this person so you need to make a connection straight away.''
Full piece at The Courier Mail

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