Death, apparently. Specifically, death of a main character. It’s a time-honoured tradition and brings with it a sort of kudos (George R R Martin, anyone?). But someone has now mapped the impact of killing characters on success and come up with this glorious image:
The books listed are those that won the Booker Prize in 2011. They have pretty wide-ranging themes, from homicidal cowboy brothers to jazz, but all of them kill off a main character. More importantly, it’s the only theme they all share.
Tolkien killed Boromir, Victor Hugo killed Javert (amongst others), Shakespeare killed everybody – there are thousands of examples. So sharpen your literary hatchets, writers, because apparently that’s what it takes to make it big.
Honestly, I’m not sure how massive a pinch of salt to take this with.