How to Keep Your Promise as an Author

The success of books and movies depend on authors keeping their promise. If they keep it, readers will recommend the book. If they don’t, readers won’t. A few things are involved in an author’s promise, the book cover, the theme, the genre, the blurb, etc.

Although the plot is not part of the promise, it plays a major role in keeping the promise.

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration. – Ernest Hemmingway.

Interior decoration compares to line by line prose, that in which writers excel, in what their talents indulge. Architecture allegorizes plotting – that’s Storygrid stuff. Architecture is not directly visible, it is implied in the structure. That applies to buildings, movies, and books.

How do people decide to buy a book or watch a movie? I consider the theme first. Is it Science Fiction, Fantasy, or a Western? Do I want to visit a church, a museum, or a park? Storygrid does not concern itself with themes.

The second consideration is the genre. Is it a Science Fiction Horror, an Action Fantasy, or a Love Story Western (or a Western Western)? I like Science Fiction, but I don’t like horror, a Science Fiction Horror is a no for me. Storygrid concerns itself with genres.

I’m divided if it comes to Love Stories – cliche alert. If I come across a Science Fiction Love Story, I will think first whether I like it. What do I consider next? The story spine. Does the book or movie own an interesting ‘What If’? Does the story arks nicely? Passengers with Jennifer Lawrence has a brilliant What If.

The architects, technicians, and workers influence the decision too. Who is the architect, the writer, or the producer? Who are the actors? I don’t watch a movie with unknown actors, except someone recommends it or I notice an interesting Story Spine. In the case of Netflix, I am a bit more lenient. In the case of books, the characters influence the buying decision. They are often pictured on the book cover in a way that reveals their heroic journey. Storygrid concerns itself with archetypes, but not deep characterization.

Last, but by no means least does the professional look of the book cover or movie poster influence the buying decision. This is a subtle influence that can tip the scales. The first impression is always the strongest and when we glance over a movie poster or book cover it is our subconsciousness that reacts and our subconsciousness knows much more than our self-consciousness. In case of unknown actors, I examine the poster for clues exposing a cheap production. I am much more likely to try the book of an unknown author than a movie with an unknown producer and actors.

Why is this important? It is important not to disappoint customers. We need to meet our customer’s expectations. The buying decision is made before the customer enjoys the product, but books and movies flop if viewers and readers are disappointed. Both sell on recommendations. So, who takes care of what?


Theme – Author and a theme editor

Genre – Storygrid

Story Spine – Storygrid

Characters – Storygrid and author (deep characterization)

Author name – Author

Line by line prose – Author and a copy editor

Professional book cover – Author and a book cover designer


Having displayed it like that, Storygrid influences the theme, line by line prose, and characterization. It gives them internal stability like a skeleton keeps the muscles, organs, and skin in place. It’s good to know how muscles attach to bones.

A final consideration: The plot satisfies the right side of the brain (intellect) and the theme, characterization, and line-by-line prose satisfies the left side of the brain (emotions). The author needs to balanced the two. This becomes obvious when we compare Western and Asian productions. Asian movies thrive on theme and drama, but their plots tend to annoy our intellect. Many Western movies thrive on plotting but lack subtlety and depth.

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