It’s blog chain time again. This round was started by Carolyn, who asked this question:
How do you keep from telling the same story over and over? What are your tips and tricks for finding fresh ideas and adding new twists to your work?
This was more difficult to answer than I anticipated. You see, I think we are influenced not only by the stories that keep rattling around in our own heads, but also by the books we read and critique, the movies we watch and the lyrics we listen too. All of it has the potential of influencing our story ideas, shaping our word choices and impacting our writing.
So how, then, do we not only make sure our ideas are fresh, but also not bordering on plagiarism?
For me it comes down to authenticity – authenticity of voice and authenticity of story.
Stories are fresh and unique when we speak from our own characters’ voices, and not merely our voice as an author – when we explore the premise of our story from the perspective of the unique characteristics that define our characters. (For about the Voice of our characters, check out this post)
Not always easy to do, true. But always worth the effort.
Another aspect of originality can be found in looking at the following Mark Twain quote:
There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written — it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.
To me, this speaks of being authentic as well…authentic to the actual story. Just as I think we must speak from our characters and not ourselves, we must be true to the story – and let it tell us how it is to be written. We get ourselves into trouble as writers when we allow the inner editor to get into the mix too soon. True, there is a time and place for editing (gosh knows my own writing needs serious editing on a regular basis), but not initially – – – not while the story is being born.
Michelangelo believed that his job as a sculture was to reveal the art that lived in the stone. As writers, I believe we reveal the story the lies just beyond the page. We just need to be open to it!