May 8, 2013

Think Big or Bigger

The main reason I love blog contests so much is that they give me the opportunity to take a peek inside the minds of fellow writers. I know a lot of writers aren't comfortable talking about their projects on their blogs, so I tend to feel like a kid on Christmas morning when contests like The Writer's Voice come along.

I'll usually go though every entry and bookmark the ones I like most. I must admit, I sometimes revisit those entries months after the contest has ended for inspiration. So if you notice someone checking out your old posts it's probably me. I'm probably still wondering how in the world you managed to come up with something so awesome in the first place.

A few weeks ago I had a major reality check when an agent politely stated that my concept just wasn't unique enough. All things considered, subjectivity, personal taste and so on, my request rate hasn't been so great--less than 10%. In truth, while my writing has improved over the years, my tastes haven't.

If someone where to ask what do I look for in a good book I'd say voice and character. While that's true, if I were to pick a book off my shelves, though it would be brimming with both voice and character, I'd probably be able to point out something about it that made it different from every other book on my shelf.

One of my favorite books Never Let Me Go is a perfect example of this. In retrospect it's a book about a young woman looking back on her childhood years, her friends, and the school she attended which she considered home. But would her story have been just as interesting to me if she were an average human being--if this school had been St. Margaret's Boarding School and not a home for clones, such as Kathy H.

Probably not.

So lately I've been writing down my ideas, whenever I get a new idea I'll type up a few sentences about it in a Word document and move on. It's definitely helped me see that some ideas that seem really awesome at first probably won't be a week or a month later. I do believe that the best ideas are timeless. There are some stories that I'm still itching to write even after many failed attempts. 

Those are the money beets stories. 

16 comments:

  1. I always worry about my ideas not being unique enough, especially when I am writing contemporary. I often look at my ideas and think how they have been done before, but I try and work out a way that I can make them original. At least a little bit. I think though, that no matter what you're story idea is, unique or not, if you're still itching to write a story then it's a story you should write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a fellow contemporary writer, I'm happy to have some company. I do agree with your closing sentence. I am still happy I wrote my last novel though I was anticipating a better outcome.

      Delete
  2. It IS very hard to come up with an idea that's original "enough" (no such thing as completely original really). I think the best thing to do is to make sure to incorporate your own passions into any idea. YOU are completely original so it's the combination of global idea plus your own obsessions that put a new spin on a story that has undoubtedly been told before in some way, but not "your" way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm totally snipping your last paragraph. :D

      Delete
    2. I really agree with Rhiann. I think this is the part of 'write what you know' that pays off the most. Write from the pov of a character who sees the world through unique eyes--eyes which incorporate something you are passionate about. This will make your story stand out.

      Delete
  3. I think this must be an insecurity of every writer, because really, everything has been done before. We just have to tell the stories that are inside us, and hope that someone cares to read them. Great to meet you! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great to meet you too, Jeannette. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. Here's hoping we'll find those people soon.

      Delete
  4. It is a challenge to find something truly original but I agree with Rhiann it's got to come from your heart and be a story that you totally believe in, otherwise what's the point. Also if you enjoy writing it, the chances are a reader will enjoy reading it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kate! Those are very encouraging words.

      Delete
  5. I do exactly the same thing. My husband calls it my Evernote account of doom. I have tons of half-baked ideas jotted down. Maybe something will come of them, maybe it won't. In any event, I think it's good just to keep them on file!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes I'll reread my old ideas and laugh at just how cheesy they sound. Thanks for the comment, Kristina.

      Delete
  6. I worry about the same thing, but I figure if the idea refuses to let go of me, I should probably stop worrying and start writing. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great Tracy, nice to be open to improvement and inspiration and ideas from everywhere.

    I think what you say is so true: "I do believe that the best ideas are timeless." -Agreed. This helps me not feel too impatient, worrying my story will get old--as I query for the ump-teenth time.

    You will (me, too) always improve, so long as you keep writing! Try experimenting with another genre--just to see what happens? maybe a short story or flash fic. all the best. look forward to hearing how it goes. :)

    ReplyDelete