I have been a fan, most of my life, of the works and words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Recently I, once again, heard someone quote him as saying, “if a man can build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to his door.” The meaning? If you do something better than everyone else, or better than most everyone else, you will be in demand, along with your product. I think authors are the same, if they produce a better product, book, than everyone else, the world will read it. I might add here, if it is marketed well.
J.k. Rowling and Lee Child have proved over the last few years that a writer can build that better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to the bookstore. How do they do it, like Emerson, write about the world through yourself? Create great characters and put them in situations as if you were there, then get them out.
Seems to me that all great writers have one thing in common, at least one great character. Much like Rowling’s, Harry Potter and Child’s, Jack Reacher, a great character drives the story. I love great characters in novels and will often read every book the author has about a character that I like.
And for today’s, by the way, moment. Emerson said, “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor the world will beat a path to his door.” Unfortunately Emerson was long gone, having passed away several years before, when this quote was widely attributed to him. So my guess is he probably never said it.
But he did say, “If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.”