ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Do Successful Authors Such as David Baldacci Seem to Write the Same Novel Over and Over?

Updated on July 7, 2018
mactavers profile image

I've lived in Arizona for 68 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books, and travel.

The Sixth Man


Keeping Writing Fresh

When I first wrote this Hub, I had just read David Baldacci's latest two novels, The Sixth Man, and One Summer. The Sixth Man follows the themes that Baldacci has been wildly successful with, that is: government corruption, greed, power, lawyers, guns, murder and fast paced action. One Summer is so different, that if Baldacci's name wasn't on the cover, I wouldn't have guessed that he wrote it. The main character in One Summer centers on the physical and internal struggles of an ex Army Ranger, Jack Armstrong, who believes that he will die in a week or two, leaving behind his wife and family. He is full of regrets, especially for a loss of closeness with his children. Then the unthinkable happens and his wife is killed in an auto accident. In a miracle situation, he begins to get better, which is the easy part of his struggle, because then he is forced to deal with the practical details of living and the feelings he must deal with in order to put his family relationships in order. I had tremendous fun reading the book reviews about One Summer. Readers and critics didn't have any middle ground. One reviewer wrote that the book was "Heartwarming and lovely...for it's treatment of a man and his family suffering." The other reader bluntly stated that she thought that Danielle Steel had taken over Baldacci's brain, and that she was so disappointed that the novel was not written in Baldacci's "Camel Club thriller suspense" style. After reading Innocent last week, I can see that as long as "formula" books such as Baldacci's theme of corruption within governments works, and a tough guy who is magically dodging bullets still sells books, then why change?

David Baldacci, who once practiced law in Washington DC, has just written his latest. Saving Faith is his 35th adult novel. Saving Faith, set near Washington DC, again, where the theme is wanting to save a witness from those who want her dead.

All of us who write, whether we appreciate an author's work or hate their style, should be awestruck of authors who have had this much success. The work that goes into writing one book and having the book published is tremendous. Still the question I often struggle with is two part. First, most newly published books are costly, and most people want to know that the time they will invest into reading the book will be well spent. So I often struggle with the choice of buying a book of an author whose previous books I have enjoyed, or do I spend the money on a new author's work that I will find more challenging? The second part of the question that plagues me each week is should I write only on the topics that I'm safe with, or should I try and challenge myself to write on unfamiliar topics that will require more of my time?

Think about the authors that you read. When I first discovered the legal suspense books written by John Grisham, I couldn't put them down, but by his 5th novel The Runaway Jury, Grisham had discovered the key to what his fans expected, but his writing was on the way to being formulaic. Grisham took a risk by writing, A Painted House, which is a fantastic coming of age story set in Grisham's memories of growing up in the South. While I don't believe that A Painted Housewas as big a commercial success as some of Grisham's crime and corruption novels, it has a timeless appeal. I hung in tight by reading Janet Evanovich's first eight novels in her Stephanie Plum bail bondsman series because of Evanovich's fantastic humor, but enough is enough for me. Living in Arizona, I've been lucky enough to hear J A (Judy) Jance, noted mystery author, speak on several occasions. I loved her Joanna Brady series set in Bisbee Arizona, and she was smart enough to switch characters and write the Ali Reynolds series set in Sedona Arizona. Judy shared with me that she had written about the Ali character before most of the Joanna Brady novels, but that she'd completed the novel at a much later date. J A also employed the writing device of switching from a female to a male persona in her J.P. Beaumont mystery series. The last time I heard J A speak, she was trying to sell a book of poems that she had written that was not a commercial success like her novels, but meaningful to her just the same. One thing I have always appreciated about her writing that is a good lesson for all writers is the fact that if you choose to write about a real location such as Bisbee then the street names and other descriptive details should be real. J A Jance has been very accurate. She also shared the writer's tip that many of the ideas for her writing have been rooted in personal incidents.

Read Read Read


Commercial or Artistic Success? Or both?

Obviously, writers are not the only "creators" who have the problem of sticking with what has been successful in the past, or having the courage to take artistic risks. For those who have ever heard the song, "Garden Party" in its original version by Rick Nelson, the song's lyrics were written after Rick Nelson performed at an oldies rock and roll review at Madison Square Garden. Nelson preformed "Hello Mary Lou" and another 1950s oldie that he had made famous. Then Nelson switched to his newer more country sound. The fans booed him or in an alternate version, he thought that he was being booed, and he promptly left the stage. The event prompted Nelson to write "Garden Party" (1972) the "hook" line which is "You Can't Please Everyone, so You've Got to Please Yourself" and he ended the song "Garden Party" with the words, "If memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck."

In the last analysis, keeping any creative art fresh isn't an easy thing. If money is the motivator, a writer will write what sells. If a writer is under a contract, they will write what their editor/publisher wants. I once had a young writer show me a book she was about to send out to various publishers in the hope of having it published. She told me that the book was "all done." From years of experience with editors, I gently told her that most likely if the book did find a publisher, a new phase of work on the book would begin. She promptly told me that she would refuse to change a single word. Hah, I thought. That certainly isn't the way things usually work.

One of the oldest devices for keeping fresh is to change persona, genre or style. Try writing non-fiction if you usually write fiction, or switch to writing dialogue. Try writing a "how to" piece instead of poetry. Try writing something a child would enjoy. Write your own biography for at least a week. Is it an honest portrayal? Share your work with a writing group or at least a good reader. Attend a writing retreat, or create one for your fellow writing friends. Write something that you never intend to share. Write a letter to someone who you will never send it to. What would your pet write about if he or she could write? Write in the futuristic tense. Read, read, read and read styles and authors you don't ordinarily choose to determine what styles and writing devices might improve your own writing.

When I was eight, I discovered the Nancy Drew mystery series. I read every volume in that series I could get my hands on. The volumes went on and on with Nancy and her trusty friends solving mystery after mystery, but by the time I was eleven, I could already pick out the bad guys or girls and I quit reading them. I wish some of our best loved authors who value creativity would understand this principle. Everyone likes to remain in their "comfort zone" but by virtue that writing is a creative art, all writers need to reinvent and create.

© 2011 mactavers


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)