What makes a piece of writing successful?

What made ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ such a smash hit? One writer says it’s little more than chance. That and more in this week’s roundup.

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Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out. Why do some novels work and others don’t? Is it better to write fast or slow? Should students be tested on writing? Can I work at HBO? All questions whose answers seem closer this week.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” success explained: Why did “Fifty Shades of Grey” succeed so wildly as a novel? Why does any book? For all the tips and tricks and classes and guides on how to publish and sell your work, it might just come down to luck. That’s what GQ contributor Drew Magary thinks:

I’ve written stupid internet blog posts for nearly decade and I still have no idea which ones will get decent readership and which ones will be ignored. I have published three books, and anyone who tells you that they can guarantee a book will be a bestseller, or claims to be able to explain why a surprise bestseller becomes a surprise bestseller, is a LIAR.

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