Worldbuilding Wednesday: Be The Blockbuster

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there were some secret formula or magic pill that would guarantee your book would be a blockbuster? Like that movie, [REDACTED] where that guy [REDACTED]  and ended up fighting the villains at the top of [REDACTED]? The movie grossed about [REDACTED] million and every actor in a lead role is now a household name. You know them–[REDACTED], [REDACTED], and of course who could forget the supreme hunkly goodness of [REDACTED].

It’s Not A Formula

The thing is, the big hit blockbusters do, in fact, have a secret formula of a sort. No, it’s not a “Fit Tab A into Slot B” type of formula where you can mix and match names, places, events, and McGuffins and come up with a winning combination every time. Although there are certain studios or actors who do seem to show up in similar storylines or subgenres, like [REDACTED] plays to his strengths by being a comedy hero. He might have been in a romantic-lead role, like in [REDACTED], but his first priority was playing it for the laughs. Or [REDACTED] who finds herself playing equal parts villainess and heroine, but still favors settings that are either historical, or have an historical aura or feeling to them. And every year, there’s always Oscar-bait movies in which the A-listers want to be seen. Even if they’re not categorically known for Oscar material, with enough star power, an actor can make a play for an Oscar like [REDACTED] did in that fabulous redition of [REDACTED].

But these are not formulae, per se. Movie critics are quick to spot when something screens formulaic and will not hesitate to call it out, like they did with [REDACTED] shown here [LINK REDACTED]. It totally wasn’t an awful movie, but it’s clear the studio lost the race for volcano movies that year and what could have been an engaging flick came across as derivative. Like being the second person to show up at the party in a powder blue ruffle-shirted tux. Even if you’ve been planning your outfit for weeks and raided the thrift stores for the perfect size, and that other schmuck just plucked his out of a used costume bin, he got there first and he’s a vanguard, while you’re the copycat.

It’s A Model

What you have instead are models–not formulae with variables that make a standard equation that comes out perfect every time. Instead, you have a model–a single success–and you attempt to distill and repeat the elements of the original that made up the success. You don’t copy it over–especially if it’s a surprise gimmick like in [REDACTED]  where the Big Reveal shocked audiences everywhere, everyone talked about it, and miraculously at the same time, everyone kept the secret so as not to spoil newcomers. But in trying to copy that, [REDACTED] failed with his sophomore effort precisely because everyone was expecting it. He delivered the same thing, but the surprise wasn’t there. It became about the game of figuring out what the surprise was (and for the record, as a superhero fan, I did enjoy [REDACTED]).

Now that game of figuring out not the if, but the when, is a staple in the horror genre. And the genre knows it. It lampshades it and comedies lampoon it. It wasn’t until it lampooned itself in the [REDACTED] franchise that horror surfaced up in the A-game again.

Blockbuster Means Go Big Or Go Home

The thing about blockbusters is that they don’t shy away from going over the top. Sometimes they can be ridiculous, like my cat dancing to [REDACTED] on YouTube (watch it [LINK REDACTED]).  If you want a blockbuster book, you need to go all out. Instead of the family vacation to the campground, you’ve got to take your family to [REDACTED] even if it is a few thousand dollars and the lines are terrible and everything costs three times as much and has mouse ears on it (and check out our family pics with some of the characters at [LINK REDACTED]).

Read More Here Here and Here. Act Here. Censorship sucks ass, and it’s even worse when we do it to ourselves. SOPA and PIPA aren’t about protecting your books from being pirated. They’re about keeping large media conglomerates in charge of the information flow. Instead of an exchange of ideas, it’ll all be pre-screened, spoon-fed, and one-way, and the money will always be right. Fuck SOPA.

 
 

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