The World’s Most Famous Detective Stories plus Modern-Day London.
What makes these story concepts so intriguing, and so repeatable?
Yes, they’re genius ideas. But there’s a recipe you can glean from those genius ideas, one which anyone can follow.
And if we can follow it, we can create our own genius ideas. It has, unsurprisingly, two ingredients.
I thought of cooking, then I thought of Stitch baking a cake.
Something timeless. Familiar. Well-known already. Your reader already has imagery and expectations attached to this thing. Take Cinderella for example. When I hear it, images pop in my head instantly: a glass slipper, a clock striking midnight, a pumpkin coach, a ball at a castle, a servant girl. Or how about boarding school? A huge ancient building, classrooms, kids in uniforms, dormitories, living at school with a ton of kids your own age. Mental images abound. And they’re most likely the same images for everybody.
(I want that dress. I’ll wear it when I go to Barnes and Noble and I’ll throw books at anyone that gives me odd looks.)
Something new. Unexpected. Contrasting with that timeless imagery. Creating something one-of-a-kind, uniquely yours. Something surprising. We all have a lot of traditional expectations when we hear “Cinderella”, so when we add “Cyborg” to it, our brains start applying sci-fi to those expectations. Same with Sherlock and boarding school and all other examples. Our imaginations instantly start having fun, creating possibilities of what could happen in the story. Which makes us want to read and find out how those expectations are met. The ideas shouldn’t go together, but that’s what makes them work so well.
It’s like this Remy gif:
Apart, the ideas, or “flavors”, are excellent. But when you combine them, things get infinitely more interesting. Downright magical in some cases.
More than the delight and imagination sparking properties of these concepts make them work so wonderfully. Each ingredient is serving a distinct function.
– One ingredient is suggesting STRUCTURE.
– One ingredient is suggesting AESTHETIC, WORLD, or TELLING METHOD.
Ask anyone to tell you the story of Cinderella, and they probably can. Everyone knows it. There are versions of it throughout the world. With boarding school, almost everyone knows the outline of a school year. Most people have a rough idea of how the revolution (or any revolution) played out. We instantly have a linear outline of events in our heads, no matter how rough or foggy.
Witchcraft and wizardry. Modern-day London. Hip-hop. Cyborgs. When you hear these, they evoke possibilities of what the world of the story is going to be like. What it’s going to look like, feel like, how that story is going to be conveyed. And the “world” of the story is one of the most intoxicating parts of a story, that we really love. It’s one of the reasons we can read the same book over and over again; you’re in another world, a fascinating world, a world that can feel a lot more like home than your own. Give readers a concept of a setting they can easily imagine, and when it’s applied to that narrative, easily want to take up residence within.
With “boarding school” you imagine school sports like badminton or soccer or that one where people slide rocks on ice.
But when you add “wizardry” to “school”, you can imagine sports
where children hurtle through the air on cleaning tools, while cannonballs try to smash into their heads.
Besides making your story timeless and unique, and far stronger for it, this also makes the concept of it highly repeatable. Because what happens if you surprise your reader, spark their own creativity, and delight them because of it?
You’ve created something they actively want to share.
The cycle of finding something you love isn’t complete until you’ve shared that thing with other people. It’s just how humans work. Just ask every person I have systematically infected with Hamilton. You’re not bribing, or bullying, or cajoling people to spread your story: they’re doing it of their own volition. Viral marketing is what you’re going for. The best kind of businesses are ones that “don’t require you’re time or presence” right? It’s the same with selling books. If you create something contagious, all you have to do is tell a few people. Then those people will tell other people, who will tell others, until you’ve spread a delightful bookish plague everyone is happy when they catch. You little plague rat you. Or plague flea, I suppose, would be more accurate.
Oh, one more thing! This element of your premise can usually be summed up with a pithy little one-line of genius: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry or “America then, told by America now.”
Yup, squishing it down into one sentence makes it even more wildly contagious.
So get that one sentence, sit back, and watch your story take over the world.
Spotted in my backyard! This is a good example of the reproductive mechanism of the Bird’s Nest fungi (Crucibulum laeve).
The fruiting body is shaped like a bird’s nest and contains egg-like peridioles filled with spores. In my backyard, this fungi is growing in a cinder block with aloe vera plants. Raindrops have launched the “eggs” (peridioles) from the “nest” (peridium) and the funicular cord (a cord connected to the “egg”) has helped the peridiole wrap around the nearest thing it lands on. You can see the funicular cord in the fourth picture. In this case, the periodioles have launched up to 9cm, sticking to an aloe vera plant.
top 3 fluff, angst and smut fics! (three for each, haha)
hmm… for smut i have to say You Might Get An Ovation by @diggs4life because she’s too good at smut. also i just saw that the sequel is up and i am DYING to read it. also Bliss by @loveydoveylaurens was really well written and wow. i loved that a lot. lastly Cinder Block by @sparkintoflame because not only was it the first hamilton smut i ever read, it was the first hamilton fic i ever read. it was sooo good, and i actually re-read it a bunch of times, which i never do.
for fluff, definitely Velvet Box by @alexanderhamllton (aka you <3) because engagements are my aesthetic and, ahsdbnks. that literally made me squeal. Home by @hamiltryingmybest (i guess that counts as fluff??) because it is so important. i absolutely love to see inclusion and my HEART. it’s very, very good. and lastly Snapshots by @manuelmiranduh. it’s so well-written and amazing, and i absolutely loved it.
Cuddle - Joshua (Seventeen) [Narcoleptic Male Reader]
(My sweet Angel! I love Joshua so much! I don’t know much about narcolepsy because I do not have it nor does anyone I know face to face have it. I am writing this off of the definition Google gave me. For Jae! ~JLS)
“Alohomora!” Rolf pointed his wand at the lock to no avail. “It’s not working…”
“Calm down…” Luna said softly. “Just let me think…”
“Calm down? You’re as bad as my grandfather…”
“He has a point, you know?” she countered. “Worrying causes twice the trouble.” She pulled out her wand, “Wingardium Leviosa…” She lifted a large cinder block in the air and sent it barreling through the glass at the top of the door. “There…” She cast a quick cushioning charm on the jagged edges of glass and climbed through. “That wouldn’t have taken me nearly as long if you weren’t worrying so loudly…”
Rolf rolled his eyes and clambered through after her. “My apologies, dear.”