If you want to write a story, you have to have plot, right? But making a good plot is not so easy (just look at the thousands of horrible movie and TV show plots).
For the most part, a good plot has to have three elements- just like teachers always said in school. You have to have an introduction, a conflict, and a resolution. Most stories follow this rule somewhat.
However, there is also a fourth element to a plot that is necessary, particularly in today’s over-saturated market. The fourth element is relevancy. To illustrate my point, take a look at the “What Does the Fox Say” video.
This video was first posted in September 2013. It was made by a Norwegian comedy group as a joke song they were using to promote their new season of their talk show. I believe I heard of the video sometime in October. According to Wikipedia, the video had over 300 million views by the end of December. The group published a book about the fox on the 10th of December. Since then, the book has had 6 re-publishings. In one month.
Why was the song so successful? I think it is due to relevancy. Foxes have been trending for several years now. Over the past 12 months or so, foxes have been one of the most popular animals. You can find a fox anything at pretty much any store. The style of music they used is also incredibly popular right now. Comedy videos have remained popular since the invention of Flash videos. All of these elements combined equaled the fastest spreading viral video of all time. If this video were a zombie apocalypse, we’d have all been dead by Halloween.
When creating a story, relevancy is a must. In fact, I think relevancy is more important than all of the other plot elements (perhaps even combined). Just take a look in any book store and you’ll see what I am talking about. Right now, popular topics are zombies, paranormal, old books re-done with quirky differences, cupcakes, dystopian, historical fiction, and Greek fantasy. If you release your story at the right time, it has the potential to go much further than it would released at the wrong time.
Of course, this does not mean that you shouldn’t be inventive. By all means do so. Every few years, there are those few books that are so outstanding that they create their own knock-offs. But the world has to be ready for it. Paying attention to what is relevant in the world today (like foxes), can really make a difference in the success of any story.