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Do bestselling novels stifle author creativity?

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is how competitive getting published is. Novelists who want to write a "less accessible" kind of story may find themselves struggling with finding an audience, or even an interested agent. Meanwhile, the list of national bestsellers is filled with novels that, generally, play it safe. For instance, The Girl on the Train is regarded in its promotional material as another Gone Girl. Would the former have been written the way it was or even be written at all if the latter didn’t precede it? Are the heavily publicized novels becoming too homogeneous? And how is this reflected across genres?

  • I think that wanting to be a bestselling author can stifle you. The more you have to consider your audience and your books acceptance the more you are going to deviate from your true story. Then again, maybe if you are a really good author maybe you can still find a way to push boundaries and yet be accepted? And the will these copy cat safe best sellers even stand the test of time? I'm probably getting too far off topic now... – Tatijana 6 years ago
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  • While this point of view may be naive, I do think that good stories will get written and distributed to readers who are interested, with the right marketing of course. However, I do think in some genres, such as mystery, it can be easy to want to closely imitate the tropes or signature twists of particular authors. I would make sure to do a lot of research about marketing and sales when writing that topic so that any expressed opinions are well informed. – mmg1995 6 years ago
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  • We shouldn't forget that published literature is an industry. I think that when an author's book is promoted as similar to another's, it's a way to ride off of a success that's already been attained. If they are genuinely similar, couldn't it be a case of people trying to take formulaic approaches to novels in order to make bank? The need to make a living affecting the quality of the product? On the other hand, what about writers (who are usually avid readers) being inspired by popular novels? It follows that something that becomes popular is more likely to influence people. – DapperHologram 6 years ago
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  • This is a very interesting topic! But I think like most mediums, most things cannot stand "on their own" and instead have to be reflections of something earlier. It's unfortunate but I think there can be some useful scholarship concerning it. – aykaykay3 6 years ago
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