What if you decided you wanted to write a novel that would join the “50 most influential books ever written?” You wanted your book to be studied in literature classes 100 years from now. You had a concept and premise that would address a problem and make this world a better place. And you felt you had it within you to pull off such a feat.
And what if you wanted that novel to address social injustice or something just as controversial. I included the Literature and Society sections from the “50 most” list for examples of such books.
From creating characters and stories that have become foundational elements in cultures around the world to upsetting undesirable standards and inspiring the imagination of many, these works of literature have touched the world in significant ways. These are the most influential books in literature.
- The Canterbury Talesby Geoffrey Chaucer.
- Divine Comedyby Dante Alighieri.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
- Moby Dickby Herman Melville.
- 1984by George Orwell.
- Brave New Worldby Aldous Huxley.
- The Iliad and The Odysseyby Homer.
- Don Quixoteby Miguel de Cervantes.
- In Search of Lost Timeby Marcel Proust.
- Madame Bovaryby Gustave Flaubert.
- Arabian Nightstranslated by Andrew Lang.
- One Hundred Years of Solitudeby Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez.
- War and Peaceby Leo Tolstoy.
- The Tale of Genjiby Murasaki Shikibu.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabinby Harriett Beecher Stowe.
- Crime and Punishmentby Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
- Things Fall Apartby Chinua Achebe.
- Faustby Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
- Belovedby Toni Morrison.
- The Lord of the Ringsby J.R.R. Tolkien.
These are the most influential books in terms of impacting society, texts that helped changed people’s views on racism, feminism, consumption, and language.
- The Diary of a Young Girlby Anne Frank
- The Vindication of the Rights of Womenby Mary Wollstonecraft
- The Second Sexby Simone de Beauvoir
- A Room of One’s Ownby Virginia Woolf
- Waldenby Henry David Thoreau.
- A Dictionary of the English Languageby Samuel Johnson
- Critique of Pure Reasonby Immanuel Kant.
- The Jungleby Upton Sinclair.
- What other titles would you add to this list?
And what if there would be consequences for writing such a controversial novel? Stakes (JSB, Plot and Structure): such as harm – physical, professional, psychological – even death. Do you still want to write that book? Have you thought carefully about the possible consequences?
So, what if you decided to protect yourself by inserting a buffer or a decoy – a main character who was on a quest to write such an influential novel, thus adding another layer to the story, and taking some of the heat off yourself?
What if, even though that main character was really you, you knew you must put your MC through the ringer.
- How far would you take your MC (you), or how close to physical death would you put yourself? Could you handle torturing and nearly killing yourself?
Commando squads showing up during the night to haul you off, never to be seen again? Or being ruined professionally where you could never find a publisher? Or being driven mad with the whole quest where you would finish the book as a deranged writer?
And, before you write your answer, we are talking “social disasters” outside your own country, not your own country’s political battles. No politics, please!
Okay, so how close to death would you take your MC (yourself)?
- Upping the ante
Now, finally, let’s up the ante. Or as Donald Maass says (in his books and classes), pick the worst possible scenario, now make it three times as bad. Let’s take that writer, the MC, you, out of the equation. You no longer have the MC to hide behind. You are writing that great influential, transformational novel yourself, without a decoy or a safety net; you face the stakes of death, in reality, not in the story. Do you still want to write it?
So, now, how badly do you want to write that story? What stakes would you be willing to face? What sacrifices would you be willing to make? Do you have it within you to make the ultimate sacrifice?
- Gaming the game
And knowing that some of you are already figuring out a way to publish without pain, what tricks have you devised to deceive? I’ll steal the easy ones: publish posthumously, hide behind a pen name, ghost write for someone else who is willing to take the heat. What others?
- Do you still want to be the Main Character?