Welcome to my new series of blog posts that I am calling “Tuesday Tips and Tricks,” where I will be trying to give you some instructional/informational ideas for using with your own writing to help you learn and grow your craft.
And, since we learned in “The Sound of Music” that the very beginning is a very good place to start… let’s begin there… with those first glimmerings of ideas that spring to life in an author’s brain.
This moment of idea is crucial, because it is the moment right before many great books never get written.
One of the common statements I have heard over and over again from aspiring writers is this idea of “original thought.” Many beginning writers seem to have this belief that they need a perfect and completely original, never-before-seen-or-tried IDEA before they can even start writing. A couple of years ago, I was a vendor at a comic-con and one young man approached my table and proceeded to tell me about the book he wanted to write. It was an interesting premise, and the story itself had a lot of potential. But then he ended his pitch with these words. “But… I can’t write that. Because it’s already been done.”
I had certainly never heard of this particular premise for a story before (but, admittedly, I haven’t read all the books there are) so I asked, “Oh? It has?”
He nodded and looked discouraged. “Yeah. The new Hobbit movie.”
This confused me, because what he had just described sounded nothing like The Hobbit. My confusion must have shown, because he continued to elaborate.
“The whole idea of an elf and a dwarf falling in love. Tauriel and Kili? It’s been done.”
Okay, yes, that was one part of his story. But this young man was ready to toss out his entire plot and give up on it because one aspect of it had “been done before.”
And he’s not the only one I’ve heard this type of mentality from.
Dear Author… your story does not have to be The Most Original Idea on the face of the earth. If that’s what you’re aiming for, you’re going to end up disappointed. Or you’re never going to begin writing. Plenty of stories borrow from other stories. (And there are quite a few out there that do quite a lot more than just borrow… some skirt plagiarism… not that I’m in any way recommending you do THAT). But the point is this: will there be aspects of your story that resemble other stories? Sure. Of course. But what is it about your story that is different? What new twist can you put on an old trope? What new characters can you bring to the table? How is YOUR story relatable in a different way than other stories that are similar? The fact remains that nobody can write YOUR story the way that YOU will write it, and that makes it original and unique. Even if your story doesn’t start out super unique… that’s what editing is for. Some of my best ideas don’t come until I’m in the last round of edits. (Which can be super annoying, especially when it necessitates some serious re-writing like it did in Minstrel’s Call in the eleventh hour… but it just goes to show that a story can be extremely fluid right up until the very final draft)
So you have an idea?
Now… go write it down! That rough draft will be messy and need work, it may not be the most original idea ever… but that is what editing is for. You can polish it up and change it around multiple times before you even let anyone read it. But until you have that first draft down on paper (or screen) you have nothing to mold, nothing to rearrange. Until you write that idea down, you will only ever just have an idea.
How do you go about writing down that idea? That’s up to you. It’s going to look different for everyone. But I’ll give you a few pointers in the next installment of this series. Until then, dear Writer… dream away… and WRITE!