“There has to be a formula.” Dianora glared at her brother. “There has to be an algorithm for writing a bestseller.”
“Ain’t” he grunted stubbornly. “It’s one of them wossnames.”
“Which wossnames precisely?” she placed her words as carefully as blades, but to no avail.
“The wossname that means there ain’t no rhyme nor reason, stupid.”
Dianora seriously considered physically attacking Adamo, but was deterred by the knowledge that he wasn’t a gentleman, was around twice her size, and perfectly capable of attacking her back.
“So what do we do?”
“You just carry on writing the stuff that pays, and I keep on going to work five days a week. That’s what real life is all about.”
She got up and stomped around the room waving her arms in the air.
“And stop doing that or you’ll hit the wall and bruise your fist.”
Dianora laughed reluctantly. “Okay. I give in. Let’s eat.”
However, the idea of an algorithm had taken root in her head and whenever she had a spare few moments she input as much information as possible slowly, slowly building a picture of what would constitute the ‘perfect’ novel. She added character names, descriptions, traits, and sexuality. She carefully dissected storylines. She even read as much erotica as she could lay her hands on sourcing both terminology and description. Then she just looked at her work for a very long time, unsure if she dare press the combination of keys that would set her brainchild in motion.
It was a wet, cold Friday evening. Adamo was tired and frustrated after a particularly scratchy week, and he came in from work to find his sister clutching a bulky printout. It looked a bit on the thick side for one of the young adult novels that paid the rent, but he took it from her hands and dropped it on his desk.
“Any hurry for this one?”
“No, in your own time.”
He thought Dianora’s voice sounded a bit peculiar, but he was too tired to try and puzzle out the behaviour of someone who was, in his opinion, erratic at the best of times, and downright impossible when in a mood.
It wasn’t, therefore, until Sunday morning that he picked up the typescript and started to read.
Three hours later he stomped into the kitchen and threw the pages down on the table with a bang.
“That,” he enunciated with careful clarity, “is absolute dross”.
Dianora turned from the pot she had been stirring on the stove and grinned widely.
“It is. But you couldn’t put it down, could you?”
“No. However did you manage to write something so horribly tacky and so completely compelling at the same time?”
“Oh,” she said airily, “I didn’t write it.”
“Well who did?”
Adamo was getting snappy, which seemed to amuse Dianora greatly. She turned up the cover page and pointed.
‘Darkness of the Soul’ a dystopian love story from the pen of Arabella Churchwarden.
“Yeah, but that’s just your pet name for your computer…”
Then the penny dropped and he stared at her with his mouth agape.
“Yes,” she said proudly. “I wrote the bestseller algorithm.”