February 20, 2010

The gist of a story:

Widower meets divorcee. Widower is a law enforcement officer and divorcee is new in town. She has relocated to the small town following her parents’ invitation. Widower’s wife was killed in a still unsolved hit and run case. True to form, widower and divorcee fall in love. It turns out that divorcee’s brother was the perpetrator of the “crime” that killed hero’s wife. Brother is traumatised when he realises that his sister is in love with the gentleman’s wife whose death he caused, albeit unintentionally. Brother confesses. Gentleman widower forgives him and the widower and divorcee live happily ever after.

We have a story in less than 100 words. This has been cunningly made into a NYT bestseller by one of the most prolific authors of our times who I am reliably informed has sold more than 10 million copies. I will not reveal identity of the author for fear of invoking the wrath of his legions of fans (and here I am hopefully assuming that at least a few hundreds of them avidly follow my blog).

I go back to my earlier reference in another post on the need to be clever with words. Being precise is not a skill that will always come in handy if one has ambitions of writing a best seller, especially if reputations have already been made. Making do with an anemic plot and then stretching it then will please publishers plenty more. This is what I have come to realise. This reminds me of the way we were advised to approach examinations in subjects like economics and commerce. The idea was to fill up as many sheets of answer paper as possible without paying much heed to what was actually written. And going by the marks awarded, there is reason to believe that this is how students were actually evaluated.

For long, I believed Bollywood’s ability to produce trash was unparalleled in this world. I am increasingly convinced that American publishing will run them close.