“I didn’t ask for half a hand, Yarvi had said, trapped where he so often found himself, on the barren ground between shame and fury. I didn’t ask for half a son.” (Half a King by Joe Abercrombie)
I’m glad that people are around to write the same books over and over. They form a perfect road map for you to write in that formula yourself. All you have to do is to find a string of a specific genre and make note of the commonalities. Through reading several examples of this ‘coming of age’ fantasy sub-genre, such as The Sea of Trolls or The Ranger’s Apprentice, I have a very clear idea about what I’d need to do to write my own best seller in this genre.
First, you must start with a somehow inadequate pre-pubescent male character. You may vary the inadequacy however you wish – physical, character, or self-perceived will all suffice. Then, throw their life off course. They may get captured, betrayed, or you can attack their home village. To get back home, they must overcome no less than three big challenges that showcase their strengths (bravery, cunning, or leadership are all winners). Bonus points may be rewarded for a subtle, unfulfilled romance, a few philosophical realizations, and some sort of secret that is revealed only in the last chapter.
Now that you yourself are capable of writing in this formula, feel free to do so. The world won’t be any worse off with a few extra copies floating around – for they are particularly relaxing, easy going reads.
Buy – Borrow Now – Borrow Sometime – Avoid
Ending: complete, but with room for sequels
Incidental Learning: How to write your own formula novel, survival
Further Reading: After reading this one, you may not want another formula fiction. If you want to stay in the fantasy genre, I’d suggest one of these two, entirely unique, works: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or The Once and Future King.