My husband and I are avid readers. Because he’s handicapped, it’s my job to pick out his library books. His taste is different from mine. I go for biographies and literary fiction while he favors mysteries. I’ve gotten pretty good at finding books he will like. He enjoys best selling authors , while I avoid them like the plague. If I see twenty books on the shelf by the same writer, I know I won’t like any of them. Most people read only a few books a year, so that’s fine for them. But when you read a few books a week, your tastes become more refined. The characters and plot of the average mystery are stereotypical. 90 % of best sellers are boring because of these 10 common, predictable elements.
1. Protagonist has lost a parent, spouse or sibling. Female is strong and beautiful. Male is handsome, tough and may have military background.
2. One character owns an animal–usually a dog or a horse.
3. Set in large coastal city like New York, California, or a resort area like Nantucket Island. Also, ranches are popular.
4. Several explicit, gratuitous sex scenes. The formula used to be one or two but that’s increased, probably due to Netflix streaming series. Take any novel; ; eliminate these scenes, and see how well the novel sells. In fact, best selling books today are thinly veiled porn. Tolstoy probably wouldn’t make it.
5. One good cop, detective, lawyer or judge
6. One bad guy.
7. Blood and guts. Excruciating pain. As an example, character is bound, gagged and tortured.
8. Perpetrator introduced in first chapter is usually false friend or spouse.
9. Story starts out fairly believable but soon develops numerous implausible twists and turns. (This is where I skip to the back of the book.)
10. Someone has a serious medical condition. If they don’t die, they come close to it.