Saturday, May 4, 2013


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:

  1. Change your perspective.
  2. Try new things.
  3. Be optimistic.
  4. Breathe.
  5. Do more than you have to.
  6. Reflect, but do no dwell.
  7. Do it with a smile.
  8. Tiredness doesn’t excuse rudeness (or laziness).
  9. 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.

What happened?

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?


  1. LOVE THIS. It is the basis of all stories, for us to connect. Connection in a way that makes us see ourselves as the character is priceless. Love this post!!

    1. Thanks, Sue! It is something that I have to constantly remind myself, as a writer.

      As a reader I always know it. As a writer... well I get distracted by trivial things. :)

  2. The whole EMT scene gave me goosebumps, Casey! Now that's connection (as Sukie said).

    And a great list of 'attitude ajustments' :)

    I'm going to second it - "Fabulous post"!!!

    1. Thank you, Janet!

      I think that in real life we often don't know how to process some of those connections... but in fiction, it helps us safely find/work through our feelings about some of the hard things in life.

      Maybe that's why we, as readers, seek it out(if that makes any sense).

      What is that old quote? I read fiction to find my truth?

  3. Great post! The reader needs to be able to care about your characters. You can feel that certain elements of your story have been done before, but all the little things that you put into it make it unique. Once we feel connected to the characters, we want to know what will happen to them.

  4. I think the "This has all been done before; I'm such a hack" issue is something we all deal with. And you're so right about how strong characters--people we can believe in--make all the difference.

    Nice post, Casey... and pretty apt, since I was thinking this same thing a few days ago. :-/

  5. LOL, Thanks, Eden! Great minds, right? ;)

  6. Maybe a trek down the NIGHTROAD like Joe Hill pens it.... chills

    1. Oooohh... *chills, indeed*
      I love Joe Hill... a horror genius.

      Hey there, stranger!!! Good to hear from ya! :D



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