How to get rich

October 24, 2013 • 12:00 pm

Build your own bestseller: three idiot-proof formulas” by Noreen Malone at The New Republic‘s site.

But there’s a better way, actually. Just have a near-death experience, pretend you went to heaven and saw Jesus, leaven the narrative with some juicy details about what heaven is like (How tall is Jesus? Are there cats up there? What do they eat?), and you’re golden.Ā  There’s nothing the public likes better than Proof of Heaven.

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19 thoughts on “How to get rich

  1. I think this is a bit unfair. Relatability is what sells. Describing common experience is the goal of all fiction to some degree or another. There has to be an overlap because we all experience variations of the same humanity. There are no ‘original’ ideas, just well-told stories.

    1. Yes, the first box is just young, female protagonists + dystopian futures. Not exactly a huge narrowing of possibilities there.

  2. You have to format it correctly:

    A previously materialist

    neurosurgeon — biologist — atheist


    an extraordinary experience during

    a coma -a walk by a waterfall-reading a physics book


    Heaven is real – Jesus is Lord — Deism


    (Eben Alexander) (Francis Collins) (Antony Flew)

  3. Or, you could just re-write the archetypal hero’s biography. Start with a prophecy about the birth and destiny of the hero; have an unsuccessful attempt on the hero’s life at a young age; have the hero grow up in obscurity but still somehow managing to lay the foundation for his future greatness; describe a series of trials and tribulations (or a quest) that the hero just barely manages to surmount while simultaneously always maintaining his heroic nature; and give him an ending that isn’t death as we know it.

    Oh — and the hero can just as easily be an anti-hero or a villain. The biography is what matters.

    See Hercules, Perseus, Jesus…Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader both, Harry Potter, Riddick….



  4. How can anyone who dreams actually convince themselves that *this one experience* was “the real thing?” How???

    1. Since other mammals (and maybe birds) also dream, dreaming is simply an energy-efficient way to practice possible future hunting scenarios. Hunting animals need to practice, rather than subject themselves to too many failed episodes of hunting; too many failed episodes, and you die of hunger (the original “hunger games”). So those who could practice learning in a low-energy environment (asleep, dreaming) did better than those whose only learning came from real events. And so dreaming came to be a dominant trait of hunting mammals (IMHO).

      That’s where dreaming comes from.

      Last night I had a very realistic dream. A very close friend (since the 5th grade, nearly fifty years) passed away in September, and in my dream, he came back, knocking on my front door (in a really strange conglomeration house, composed of many memories and locations.) He was entirely black, even the clothes he was wearing. “Pete, is that you? I must be dreaming. It can’t be you. It’s a dream.” So I reached out, and I touched him…”I guess I’m not dreaming, you are solid. I can feel you, so it’s not a dream.” He came into the house, and as we moved about and talked, over in the corner, there was the “Grim Reaper” (hooded, scythe, black). When Pete looked at the Grim Reaper, it was as if anti-matter met matter, and they whoosed together and exploded, and there was nothing.

      I trace every element of this dream to my recently reading New Yorker magazine cartoons. Dreams like this are simply exercises by the brain, fitting new information into possible future scenarios.

        1. I speculate that the dreams under chemically-enhanced conditions (anesthesia, coma, etc) may be more detailed in memory….probably extremely detailed compared to regular dreaming. Committing something to more than the first level of remembering takes some special chemistry; add in adrenaline, for instance. Many wartime stories are held vividly for decades. Probably a very anxious moment in the fourth grade (for me, at least) involved adrenaline so you never forgot it. Dreams and PTSD have a life of their own. So, in conclusion I hypothesize that the neurosurgeon, with his brain unattending of normal visual inputs, went into hyperdrive in the collection and memory of dream detail.

          1. So they have really, really, detailed dreams. (I have really detailed dreams, too.) But I am painfully aware that my mind lies to me about all sorts of things, and I would never… dream of telling anyone else they were *real* or supernatural *visions.*

            1. These people writing these accounts think they “traveled” somewhere. They seem to believe they went to another physical place. Now, by what absurdly complicated method did that experience, outside the body, somehow come to be inserted =exactly= into the right neurons (out of billions of neuron/synaptic intersections) from outside? Anyone see any physical evidence?? None.

              Recently (last ten years, cannot cite) there was a report that by probing a precisely-noted area of the brain, the procedure induced those “visits” by those black-eyed grey alien creatures. This was reported as repeatable (not that I’d want that memory….I’m NOT volunteering for that!)

              Expect amazing untold stuff from the most complicated device in the known universe!

              1. You convinced me. From now on I will believe every vision, dream, or delusion I have. And convince other people of their prophetic power.

  5. “Oh, but he’s a respected neurosurgeon! He wouldn’t lie just to make a buck!” Why not? He might even believe he was “causing no harm” by comforting people with his Carlos Castenada-ish story of magic and out of body experiences. And maybe he promised himself he’d donate part of his newly minted millions to charity! Everybody wins!

    1. This brings to mind the movie ‘The invention of lying’ with Ricky Gervais.
      For those who don’t know of it, Ricky lives in a world just like ours but where no one ever lies, but when his mother is dying, she tells him that she is scared of oblivion, that her mind will cease to exist once she is dead, and magically, Ricky discovers lying and tells her that no, she is going to a place where all her friends are and everyone lives in a mansion.
      His mother believs him, because to her it must be true because no one can lie.
      She then dies happily, but some of the hospital staff heard him and believe him too and want him to tell them more.
      So he comes up with the story that there is a man in the sky that is responsible for everything that happens.
      A truly funny movie for me.
      One of my friends still occasionally will say ‘man in the sky forbid’.

  6. I loved Bossy Pants because I discovered that Tina Fey and me both had a crush on Larry Wilox from CHIPs. I thought I was the only one! šŸ™‚

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