Sunday, 21 July 2013

15. Originality

I can proudly state that I achieved my goal as stated in last month’s blog. I’d written just over 30,000 words by the end of June and discovered how many words I can manage in a thirty minute sprint. That means I have no more excuses to write something every day. (cough)

It was great to see that word count rise as did my excitement at having a new story evolve. Add to that was the bonus of meeting some more of the wonderful writers at RWA who provided encouragement, entertainment and such an amazing feeling of camaraderie.

I look forward to chatting with some of them again in RWA’s Clayton’s Conference in August. Last year’s conference was an absolute blast and I made some wonderful friends, some of whom are attending this year’s Clayton’s also. As much as I’d love to be travelling to Fremantle, Western Australia and meeting a few of those wonderful people in person, I’ve no doubt this year’s Claytons is going to be just as amazing.

My characters played nice and let me take them on an adventure with just a few side steps. I must admit those little detours were steps in the right direction. Soon I’ll have a completed story to edit and then let rest for a little while. Then I’ll be searching for victims (I mean, volunteers) to play beta reader for me. Critiques please – your prize – first look at a new story and for me, if it’s considered good enough – possible publication. Have to keep those hopes and dreams alive, right? :)

As for this blog’s topic, there was cause for a little more insight when I borrowed (with her permission) my oldest child’s library book, firstly to show interest in the things she likes and also to get a feel for what her generation is reading. She’s in to the YA version of the stories I love to read and write and reading her book allowed me some perspective of what it’s like to be an angst-ridden teen. I say perspective because I prefer to block out that part of my life and pretend it never happened (I’m sure there will be moments in my children’s teenage years that I’ll want to forget too.)

For the most part I enjoyed the story but I also found it frustrating and to my dismay, I found similarities to a story I’d been working on when I first became serious about my writing. For the first third of the story I was running a comparative checklist:-

Angst-ridden teen female main character – check

Main character thinks she’s a freak - check

Survives car accident resulting in paranormal ability – check

Results in a scar main character is desperate to hide – check

Main character blames self for the car accident – check again.

Granted her character was 16 whereas mine was 18, their paranormal abilities were heading in opposite directions and the scars were in different places, by this stage I was almost afraid to keep reading. All the effort I’d made to keep my story new and interesting (or so I thought) and here I was discovering that it had already been done. And now that I’ve written this I’m reminding myself of Stephen King’s – The Dead Zone...

I did keep reading though and discovered from then on that our characters, ideas and similarities parted ways. It was an invaluable lesson. Originality is vital in the publishing world. We all want to read something fresh, exciting and interesting and for those who write, well that’s what we want to write too.

I imagine other readers have heard the statement – there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them – so I’ve taken that on board too. I have some work to do, some out-of-the-box thinking to pursue and take the time to give my readers the kind of books they deserve whether it’s a new perspective on a tried and true storyline or something that’s never been seen before.

Only one problem, my daughter hasn’t brought home a new book for a couple of weeks now... I think I may have fretted a little too much over the last one. :)


  1. You must have been a writing demon. Congratulations! Though you made me laugh with the no excuses comment -- we're authors, we *always* have an excuse :)

    Originality is interesting. Editors keep demanding something "fresh" (which makes me wonder if I should send them air fresheners or something, but I digress). But what ends up published seems to have familiar rhythms to the story and at least something fairly connectable (and hence, not too out there) in its hook.

    I think you're brave tackling YA. It daunts me ... though not as much as children's books. Those authors are clever. And the ones who illustrate as well as write - amazing!

    Happy writing :)

    1. Hi Jenny. I was trying to be good but I'm afraid there's plenty of times where I can find an excuse too.

      lol on the air freshener and I thank you for your insight on what's publishable. I completely agree.

      As for tackling YA - I find it too difficult to stop at just a kiss so I don't think my attempts at anything YA would go very far. It doesn't seem logical given at that age I was reading what would definitely be classified as 'adult', but I respect that some parents don't want their teenagers reading anything too intense, especially when it comes to sex.

      I would never be game to tackle children's books either. My hat is off to those authors. As for talented illustrators - being green with envy doesn't even come close.