I have had several replies about my earlier blog discussing the importance of originality. The most thoughtful of the comments came from one reader, a long time resident of Thailand, who wrote:
“Liked the blog on 'originality of story' (vs. talent alone). In particular, "Self-discovery is not the basis for an original story" - should be standard text in 'Literature 101". How many SE Asian novels would we have (gratefully, graciously) been spared?
Going unmentioned was the mastering of "story-telling", which draws the reader along (with or without originality): The reader's curiosity the ring in his nose, the author having tethered the ring. For example, I think [insert the name of many Booker Award winning author] is a rarity in that he qualifies as "master" in talent, but unable to generate enough curiosity factor for me to be able to finish even one of his books.
DaVinci Code had an embarrassing over -abundance of these writing 'techniques' to generate curiosity, along with, of course, being able to add nothing original. (But it was apparently not an "over-abundance" to the masses...). The "Code" also successfully played to the "curiosity " of the masses on the secrecy and conspiracy angle as relating to ancient and occult symbolism. The masses were also intensely curious about what religious 'revelations' and sacrileges might be in the offing. It's only afterward that you realize you've been eating cotton candy - it looked impressive and tasted good at the beginning; only later you realize there was nothing there to begin with.
Unfortunately, piquing the collective curiosity (starting the 'buzz') -within the confines of the written work- can only be attempted, it cannot be calculated in advance. (Expensive PR/ puff pieces/ hype being another matter - where excrement like BKK-8 can be fobbed off as readable if the 'right people' say it is readable. - the creation of curiosity in the potential reader.)”