Last week, I talked about Originality… but the more that I thought about it, the more I realized what I was actually worried about wasn’t a matter of originality, it was a matter of perspective.
When I was going through college, I started keeping this little notebook. I would write thing in it to keep me from getting too overwhelmed by the culture shock of a homeschooled girl from rural Ohio being out in a crowded and busy world. By the time I was in EMT school (3yrs later), I had a pretty good sized list. As I was thinking about last weeks post, I realized that the ‘list’ easily converted to writing life as well.
I won’t bore you with every item on the list, but here are a few:
- Change your perspective.
- Try new things.
- Be optimistic.
- Do more than you have to.
- Reflect, but do no dwell.
- Do it with a smile.
- Tiredness doesn’t excuse rudeness (or laziness).
- Don’t make others pay for your bad day (not even characters).
While there are several things on this list, I think they are really all just different ways to remind myself that when things stop working, or seem difficult, really all you need to do is take a step back and look at it from a whole new angle.
What is there that you didn’t see before? There is always some small piece of the puzzle you(either willfully, or inadvertently) don’t see.
This is helpful with many things, but this last week, I applied this list to my concerns that my story may not be original enough… there is no shocking thing that I came up with to offer the fictional world. I didn’t re-invent the wheel.
I sat back and looked at my story, and instead of only picking out the one or two things that reminded me of other stories that I have read over the years, I looked at the big picture. I looked at my side plots. I looked at my ending. I looked at my hooks. And I felt better.
While we’re talking about it, consider this: While the story is initially what grabs you when you chose what book to read, isn’t it the characters that keep you invested? Why?
That is too complex for a simple answer from me, so I’ll answer this way:
Say an EMT goes on a squad call. The call comes in: MVA with fatalities. Happens. EMT gets there, no survivors. SO and coroner clears the scene, so the EMTs start to load the DOA, (typically into a body bag directly onto a backboard. Easier to carry a broken body). This is routine.
The EMT looks over, while fastening the cot straps, and sees a copy of Bag of Bones by Stephen King, laying on floor of the passenger side. Blood sprayed across the mangled cover. The same book the EMT was reading just before the call came in. They stare at it for longer than they mean to. Swallowing became a little more difficult. They start to notice other things then. The dog toy in the road that fell out of the back seat during extrication. The ripped baby blanket with all the shards of broken glass on it.
The perspective changed.
That body ceased to be the job, and became a person.
If you can find a way to do that in your story… make your reader shift from reading about a character/story to reading about a person… the problem of originality ceases to be a problem.
What do you think?