TypewriterThe ever-helpful Writer’s Digest fuels the imagination of aspiring authors with their handy checklist: Seven essential elements of a bestselling novel.

Some – like readability and reasons to care – are obvious.

Others, like seeking out controversy are interesting suggestions. The example provided uses as an example Scarlett O’Hara of Gone with the Wind. By any measure of imagination, Scarlett is a manipulative, shallow, and unlikable protagonist, who, nevertheless, all readers are rooting for in the end.

Scarlett herself is most likely modeled on Becky Sharpe, one of my favorite ruthless – and endlessly fascinating- protagonists. We watch her behaving deplorably throughout Vanity Fair, yet we’re drawn to her like a moth to the flame.

Sometimes characters in modern novels are so good and worthy, to make the readers relate to them and ‘like’ them more, that they become, well, ho-hum. So hats off to controversy.

Strangeness and nuanced uniqueness are also interesting elements to consider.

What do you think, readers and writers? Do you agree with these essential elements? Have some of your own to offer?

Bestselling novel or not, happy writing this August!