I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, April 18, 2011

My A-Z of Writing Tips: Originality

"No man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

~ C.S. Lewis

How about you: Do you try to write a story nobody else has written, or would you rather put your own spin on a plot that’s been done before? Do you even think it’s possible to write a story nobody else has written? 

Crusader Challenge Heads-up

I'll be holding my final Crusader Challenge on Friday, April 22nd. The theme of the Challenge will be related to the letter S (it has to be "Show not Tell" of course!), so A-Z Challenge entrants can combine both posts if they wish to enter my Crusader Challenge as well. Those who aren't Crusaders are very welcome to take part. This month's Challenge is just for fun, so there won't be any judging or prizes.

I've posted the Challenge below, so you have a few days to come up with your entry. All entries should be posted on Friday, April 22nd. As soon as you've posted, pop back to Rach Writes... and leave the direct link to your entry in the Linky Link tool, which I'll include in my April 22nd post.

Show Not Tell Crusader Challenge: In 300 words or less, write a passage (it can be an excerpt from your WIP, flash fiction, a poem, or any other writing) that shows (rather than tells) the following:
  • you're scared and hungry
  • it's dusk
  • you think someone is following you
  • and just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: shimmer, saccadic, substance, and salt.
Can't wait to see what you come up with on April 22nd!


Cally Jackson said...

That's a great quote. I usually think it's impossible to write anything original any more, but then an author proves me wrong, like Audrey Niffernegger with The Time Traveler's Wife or Emma Donahue with Room. Both AMAZING books. :-)

Sarah Allen said...

I love that quote! C.S. Lewis is my favorite :) Great post.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

mooderino said...

Great quote, hadn't heard it before.

Moody Writing

Crystal said...

Oh, my gosh, Rach, THANK YOU for that quote! One of my biggest... hang-ups, I guess you could call it, as a writer is that every single story that could possibly be told has already BEEN told, and told well, and there's no way for me to come up with something original. I'm working hard on learning just to say "never mind" and write anyways because, as Janet Fitch said, I might not be Shakespeare but I have something to say.

Again, thank you. That quote's going on my cork board!

Kari Marie said...

Awesome quote! I often feel like my ideas have been done before, but then I try and remind myself that my interpretation might be different. You never know what could happen.

Jeanne said...

Its our unique voices and our unique perspectives that create the difference. The themes are the same but our take on them is so different.

T.D. McFrost said...

Excellent quote!

I am absolutely, positively one who strives to write something no one else has! I am fed up with the cliches and the used and abused elements.

I write Fantasy for MGers, btw.

Have a wonderful day everyone. :D

T.D. McFrost said...

Excellent quote!

I am absolutely, positively one who strives to write something no one else has! I am fed up with the cliches and the used and abused elements.

I write Fantasy for MGers, btw.

Have a wonderful day everyone. :D

Nofretiri said...

Great minds thinking alike, right? :-) I've dealt with the very same question on ABC, E for Einzigartigkeit (uniqueness).

Greets from Germany! :-)
Karin @ Nofretiris Dream Of Writing

Rogue Mutt said...

Every story's just a total rip off of Homer. His ancestors should sue.

Ann said...

I have been working on writing a fairy tale from a different character's POV. I have it more than 3/4's finished and discovered someone else thought of doing the same thing and has actually been published. My story is from a different POV than this published authour, but it has brought me to a screeching halt.

Angela Felsted said...

No, I don't think it's possible. Everything's been done. But the nice thing about being an individual is that each person has a different take. Thus an old idea reads like an interesting on in the right person's hands.

lesleylsmith said...

Originality is key and tricky.
I'd love to write a story with a plot no one has ever seen before!
I better put on my thinking cap...

Zan Marie said...

The C.S. Lewis quote is much like Stephen King from On Writing about writing what you know in your heart--the truth as you know it. It automatically becomes original and interesting.

My entry for the final challenge is coming along nicely. My husband was blown away by it. ; )

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Fun challenge!! Looking forward to it :))

Madeleine said...

Great post. Yes I agree with the quote. You can frazzle your brain trying to think up something too brilliantly original, so it's best to enjoy the writing process and hope it just pops into your head :O)

Pearson Report said...

Love C S Lewis - so love the quote!

I'm not a fan of posthumous sequels.
Invariable a sequel written by someone other than the original author, in my opinion, often does not do justice to the original work.

I think it is possible to do original work that has never been done before - one just needs to draw from deep within.

Have a wonderful day Rachael,

Drop by my site there's a treat waiting for you.

K.C. Woolf said...

Even if a story has been told before, our take on it, the words we choose, the details we add, the shades we use to colour everything in, reflect our unique personalities, I'd say.

Like with the Crusader Challenge: even with a specific mission, the results are quite different.

G.~ said...

Hi Racheal. I've finally made it over here. It took me some time but I'm here.

As far as writing goes, I try not to think too much about it. I just write. I edit, I fine tune and I edit again. THEN I panic and wonder if it's been written before, but here's the thing; Nothing is original if you truly think about it. Everything has come from somewhere.

If we write what's on our hearts, chances are it will grab people by the throat and not let them go until they're done reading. ;)

Great post.

Rachel Morgan said...

Hmm... I think it's pretty tough to come up with something completely original. I think most stories are variations and mish-mashes of things that are already out there. But that's okay, because everyone tells a story differently :-)

Adina West said...

This is a funny one, because if you break any story down into its core themes, they may seem familiar...but the treatment each individual author gives the themes or story elements they choose can still be quite original I think. And well drawn characters should be able to breathe fresh spirit into any story.

Ultimately the reader is the best judge of whether we succeed in being original though!

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