Nicholas Sparks isn’t a romance novelist, OK? He writes fiction, thank you very much, and he’s made it clear in various interviews that he thinks he’s one of a kind. But on the off chance you’d like to write your very own Nicholas Sparks romance novel—er, fictional love story—Cracked offers a helpful guide: All you need is “two pretty white people,” “an obstacle that makes love between them seem impossible,” and a “completely-out-of-left-field, exploitative, awful disaster.”
“All of these books are the same book,” the takedown continues. “It's like this guy spent every day of his childhood reconciling with his parents, getting cancer, and writing letters to people that never got to read them.” And really, why is it always cancer? “It’s like this guy only knows one possible bad thing that could happen to people. No one gets laid off or diagnosed with a lumbar strain. Fuck this guy.” For the complete, handy chart, click here.