Unique Little Snowflakes

April 21, 2009 at 2:43 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I’ve always had ideas for plots, characters, conflicts.  They sound great in my head and I’m always excited to get them down on paper — until I get about 2,000 words in.  That’s usually when I’m hit with the first wave of doubt; is this idea workable?  Isn’t it overdone?  Aren’t I just hanging off the coattails somebody else’s story?  Why is my piece so special?

This tormented me for a long time.  After all, Shakespeare’s already written it all, hasn’t he?  Anything we write is just a cheap imitation of a great idea that’s already been done and redone.

So what makes our writing unique?

People are always talking about a ‘new spin,’ but I don’t quite know what they mean.  It’s such a generic statement — ‘be responsible’ as opposed to ‘do all your homework every single night and never smoke pot.’

And yet we somehow end up with fantastic new concepts.  Look at Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series; it takes an age-old theme and turns it into an adventure unlike anything else I’ve found.  Why?  What sets Westerfeld’s book apart from the generic brain-over-beauty and rebels-eat-the-government ideas that seem to be everywhere?

That’s my question for you, Twifties.  It’s a big world, and there’s a lot out there — so how do you make sure YOUR story is a unique little snowflake?

<3, Terri



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  1. Hmm. Good question!
    I have to say that what I hope sets my writing apart is the truthful perspective. It’s part of my style; I try to have the narrator say what EVERYONE would be thinking in a situation. Does another character’s dramatic speech contain something a teenager’s mind could laugh at? Then they laugh. Screw the ‘current tone’, I don’t like to pretend my characters have innocent minds any more than I pretend they’re suavely flirty, or that they always know what to say.
    This might not be an original style, but as Nathan Bransford happened to say today, it’s all about combining element X with element Y with element 16. In my case? Vampires with that “What-they’re-all-thinking” style, with…a bunch of other stuff.
    Hope I’ve succeeded!

  2. Well, to me, your characters make the story original. As a writer myself, I am influenced by worlds that are already created. Take for example, Metamorphosis, the book I am currently writing, was inspired very much by Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. I always wanted to create my own world but writers are students and books are our textbooks. Not every idea is not that original. It stems from some story and though you can’t see that, it does. My novel does not have anything to do with “generic brain over beauty or rebels eating the government” but there was one thing that inspired me from his writing, and that would be his ability to tie everything together. Make things jump off of the paper and take you on a ride. Style and characters is what sets your story apart from everyone else’s. You can write about a girl falling in love with a vampire, without being compared to Twilight. You can write about a boy finding out he was a wizard, without being compared to Harry Potter.
    Everyone has a story to tell and everyone has a different outlook on things, and the ability to incorporate your style and ideas into a already done idea, is what makes your story into a unique little snowflake. At least, that’s what I think.

  3. I guess when I start a WIP that I really, really love, I don’t worry about whether or not its been done before. When I was writing City of Shadows/Ghostland/Whatever, I was so absorbed in the characters and their conflicts and their world that I didn’t think that maybe it was a little like Uglies until I entered Nathan Bransford’s contest and people TOLD me that it was.

    Honestly, I think if you develop three-dimensional characters and create a solid world in your WIP, it will be unique. It may not be NEW, but it will definitely be unique.

  4. I think that no matter how unoriginal you may THINK your story is, the truth of the matter is that NO ONE else can write it out exactly like you. Imagine if you rewrote a favorite super trend book, for best example freakin’ Twilight. You could still have a Bella and Edward but I doubt very very highly that the two books would carry the same tone or general impression. That’s the amazing thing about being a writer- anything you write is always, 150% one of a kind. Woohoo!

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