3 Surprising Ways Bestselling Authors View The World Differently 

Most aspiring writers realize, at some level, that bestselling authors manipulate  the English language differently. What many are surprised to discover is that they also see the world differently, too.

In fact, their prose is virtually a byproduct of thier perception. 

That is to say, bestselling authors filter their daily experience in certain, reproducible ways. What if you had the same filters as bestselling authors? What if you processed the world just like them? Imagine how much these new insights might transform your work!



3 Surprising Ways Bestselling Authors View The World Differently 

Bestselling authors use three separate but equally meaningful filters. You could call them Bestseller Filters

  1. Story Filter
  2. Detail Filter
  3. Preemptive Filter

Story Filter

Colloquially speaking, beer goggles upgrade attractiveness through, let’s say, creative filtering. They are a way of seeing the world. The same is true of story goggles.

Story goggles filter the world through story. 

Best selling authors have trained all of their senses to pay attention to story elements: characters, dialogue, setting, conflict, etc. Bestselling Authors filter everything in life through story.

Often subconsciously, they ask themselves constantly, “How would this work in a story?” They know right away if something fits or not, if something grab their attention and pulls them toward the page or the keyboard. Every interaction, every experience, is fodder for story. They don’t set aside time to think about storytelling. On the contrary, they find it hard (if not impossible) to turn this filter off.

There is no set time for story. All time is story time. This filter runs perpetually in the background, focused effort in the beginning but now lowered to the level of unconscious process.

Detail Filter

Bestselling authors notice things other people overlook, hidden things and things in plain sight, things both ordinary and extraordinary, things that find their way onto the page.

The story filter generates this hyper awareness of story detail. The telling detail leaps out at the author like a hobgoblin from the darkness.

It could be a discarded bike on the playground, riveting in its potential for symbolism. Or a broken figurine of a seahorse. Or anything at all.

The telling detail, like a picture, is worth 1000 words.


Preemptive Filter

You may have heard of the infamous writing adage: Kill your darlings. That is, eliminate good ideas, beautiful sentences, compelling characters and cool subplots (and anything else) from your story that doesn’t serve the narrative. Kill your darlings. 

But you don’t have to kill what you don’t conceive. 

Bestselling authors employ a preemptive filter that mines the world for story-worthy ideas, images and experiences. 

This preemptive filter eliminates sub-par information before it germinates on the page. There are a million “Nos” to every “Yes”. The “Yeses” get collected and stored for ready access during the direct writing time – when experiences get translated to the screen.

These three filters – Story, Detail and Preemptive – reveal a startingling truth: bestselling authors aren’t better, they just have better filters. 

Developing Bestseller Filters

  • Everyone has a filter – you, me, that one guy at the office who is emotionally attached to his red stapler, even Stephen King.
  • In the early (apprentice) stage of the craft, our filters are wide-open, welcoming every stray idea like animal lovers at holiday time.
  • Filters can be developed over time. 
  • Bestseller Filters start out intentional and require intense focus. The effort is worth it.
  • Over time, our filters become more discriminating. We learn to recognize the gold from the ordinary rock (and, paradoxically, when the rock is secretly golden). 


Key Takeaway: You develop Bestseller Filters through intentional focus, awareness, reading great works, writing (and testing, experimenting and modeling others) and seeking objective feedback from others. This is the mandatory apprenticeship of the craft and mastery comes in no other way. 

Get your free Bestseller Filters Cheatsheet 


Christopher Kokoski is a speaker, trainer and author of Wicker Hollow and the Past Lives novel series.

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Posted in books, reading, screenwriting, writer, Writing

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