Monday, September 20, 2010

How Original Is Your Story?

As I went through some of the contest entries, I was reminded of something we often read on agents’ blogs, “The story wasn’t original. Seen it a million times before.” While all plots are forms of stories that have been told in the past, you still need some kind of edge, something that’ll make the reader want to read your version of this tale. Maybe you have a different twist or an unusual character in your story that makes it compelling. Or maybe it’s your voice that intrigues the reader to turn page after page. Whatever the case may be, you need something.

How original is your story? Have you done the research? Have you not only read books in your genre, but searched for stories similar to yours and compared them to your plot and character ensemble? If you haven’t, you might want to consider adding this to your “To Do” list.

For those of you who’ve entered the contest, don’t panic. Most of you have found something different to add to the mix. Don’t forget, this is only a short sample that I’m reading. Maybe the twist or different element isn’t apparent in this piece, but you need to be aware of the problem. If an agent read this scene as a part of a requested sample, they’d see the same thing I did, so make sure that special element is obvious throughout your writing. I also want to add a reminder that I’m not looking for perfection, just great writing and super duper critiquing.

Awareness is the key. Do your homework and know how your story stands up in the world of publishing.

What are some of the tricks you use to make your story stand out?

If you haven’t heard about our critique group contest, check out the details here. The deadline is tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon Central Standard Time. Good luck!


  1. It's probably not the most original, as it takes one many different stories and ideas, but I think the angle is unique.

  2. Alex: That's good. Changing the angle is a twist in itself. Way to go!

    Lynnette Labelle

  3. no tricks i can think of off the top of my head, but i did two short posts about this on my blog a couple of days ago. nice to see someone else tackling the subject with this depth.

  4. Great post! So so true!! When i read a book, I never expect soemthing to be truly unique and original, but I do expect to be taken somewhere I wasn't expecting. I read a lot of romance and women's fiction and with the romance, I want to believe for a moment that it won't end that way!!

  5. I was just rejected by an agent as she had too many similar stories to sell already!!