So last week I blogged about stealing ideas and still being original with them. It got me thinking about the idea of being original. Don't we all dread being just like somebody else? We want to write something new and unique, something that stands out. But how, exactly, do we do that?
How to Make Your Writing Stand Out in a Crowd
Shallee ● Nov 8, 2010
One of my crit group buddies said something to me last week that made something click in my brain. I'm submitting chapters of my rewrite of Devs, and as we left, my buddy said something along these lines: "Your first draft felt so similar to a lot of things out there, but all the details in this draft are making it stand out."
And there it is! That's what makes your book original, even when you follow the three-act structure or use one of the seven basic plots. The details. That's what makes your book yours, what makes it stand out from everything in the slush. Details like these:
Character details. We hear it all the time: make your characters real/flawed/unique. Behind all of that, I think what we really want is to make our characters memorable. We want a character that sticks out in someone's mind. It's all in the details! Why do we remember Katniss from The Hunger Games? She poaches food from the woods to survive. She kicks butt with a bow and arrow. Her dad was killed in a mine explosion. It's those kinds of details that make your character stand out in a readers mind. For more on developing this kind of character, check out this post.
Setting details. Your setting/world should NOT be ignored! It's one of the biggest ways to differentiate your book. The thing is, you can have a totally fascinating world, but nobody's going to care unless you bring out fascinating details. Think of the book Uglies, and all the details brought out about the world. Everyone has interface rings that are basically tracking devices. The pretties have crazy things like "safety fireworks" to play with. Tally eats bucketloads of reconstituted food like Spagbol. Bring out those details in your setting! What small things will make it stick in the reader's mind? For more on setting, check out this post.
Plot details. This can be a tough one. The story is the most critical element-- it's what we do, right? We're storytellers. So how do you keep your plot original, something that readers won't expect? Again, it's in the details. Look at the small (and big) turning points in your story. Usually, it hinges on the character taking some kind of action. But what action? If your character does the first thing you think of, I can just about guarantee it's unoriginal. So think of two or three or six different decisions your character could make. Which one will turn the reader's expectations on their head? The tiny moments of the plot-- the details-- can be great places to make your story stand out.
So, friends, go forth and be original! And please share-- what do you do to make your writing stand out? How do you create uniqueness in your writing?
Labels: Writing Craft
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