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What makes your novel stand out?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Spider, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Being something of a Japanophile, my fantasy world has a significant Japanese influence. Though I am not just influenced by modern Japanese media but have also done some reading into Japanese religion, mythology and history which I find fascinating.

    For instance, my world's version of vampires/blood drinkers are called Akuma (a Japanese word for monsters) and practice a religion that is a mix of Buddhism and Shinto in order to maintain discipline over their nature and rid themselves of desires that distract from the mission of their race.
  2. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

    There are a few things that make my work stand out (as far as I'm concerned, at least). The most important of these is that I tend to come up with very original premises and plot points (reviews always point this out). Obviously, my characters are linked with this, meaning they tend to have fairly original features and quirks.

    The next most important thing is dialogue. One of the reviewers of my most recent novel wrote: 'dialogue that crackles like a Tarantino movie'. I loved that, and saw it as recognition for something upon which I work really hard. I believe I have an 'ear' for dialogue and a good understanding of how it helps to tell the story.

    Thirdly, I think I do interesting-but-realistic action in a way that no-one else does. An example of this is sex scenes. There's quite a lot of sex in my books but it's not like any sort sex you've read before. I try to tap into the way that humans imbue just about every aspect of their lives with sexuality (without really thinking about it). To some extent I learned this from reading the brilliant John Barth, but I like to think I've taken it further. For those who are interested I wrote a blog article about this at the following link: April | 2012 | The Book Hammer

    It's called: 'How to write an excellent bonking scene'
  3. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Hmm, a couple of things probably.

    My world is inspired by Ancient Rome, except it's almost science fiction. Not quite steampunk (bronze/ironpunk?), but more a play on words of the fact that many galactic empires are called 'republic' mixed with some suitable forensic technology for the sake of the story. Also, there are no normal humans - the main race the story deals with is satyrs/fauns.

    My characters are also relatively unique to the genre in that they are nearly all middle-aged women with minimal fighting experience. A couple have some experience with hunting, but average Janes make up about half of the party. One of the main male protagonists is kind of a retired rogue, a bit too old to be running up behind the possessed ones hunting them down and stabbing them in the back, but he can defend himself well enough.

    My story and my writing suit me fine, but I don't think either stand out.
  4. Smith

    Smith Minstrel

    This thread poses an interesting question.

    I know my writing itself is solid, but I wouldn't say it stands out. My plotting is probably not all that impressive, that I've managed to pull anything workable together at all is a celebration. As far as unique story elements go, I like to think my world-building is slightly above average. I like to adapt common fantasy tropes and races to suit my needs, combine common elements with more uncommon ideas, utilise inspiration from oft-overlooked folklore and cultures, keep humour understated and self-deprecating, and blend in a little horror, whether it's dark magic and monsters or existential dread. I like my antagonists sympathetic, even 'good', in their own way, and my heroes not all that heroic. I would almost go as far as to say the only thing that really separates them is who's story I've decided is more valid, but only almost. Everyone's usually driven by selfish motives, even when they perform 'good' deeds, because I believe that's very human.

    I think what would probably set my work apart most of all is the depth of the characters and the evolution of the relationships that form between them, and they tend to be from more diverse walks of life than what might be typical. Everything else is just window dressing for me. Fun, scary, entertaining window dressing, but window dressing nonetheless. To me, if a story doesn't have interesting characters, I find there's little point, regardless of the strength of everything else.

    I think the characters in my novel are unusual, fun, multi-faceted, and occasionally vulnerable, but they relate to one another in such human ways. A range of life-experiences is important, too, but then I like to mix it up. I like giving very ordinary, maybe mild-mannered characters unknown strengths and then undermining strong characters, humanising them in unexpected places, with confusing emotions and bewildering hope. The powerful warlock loner falls in love and has no idea how to deal with it, the fierce middle-aged witch hunter is incredibly vain and has a soft spot for fashion, and my revenge-driven hero gets seasick.
  5. hots_towel

    hots_towel Minstrel

    well this is kind of embarrassing, but my WIP it seems is violating a bunch of tropes and cliches. the ending i guess is the only thing that makes mine stand out (and that means one would have to overlook the predictable plot to make it to the end to begin with).

    I have a few story arcs that start at the beginning of the series, and then either conclude or combine with others to the point where there are only 2 left at the end, and they collide head on. i guess this is what makes it sort of unique (i know there are quite a few other stories out there that do this also).

    in one of the arcs though, there are 4 main characters. They are each more or less very similar to the star wars gang. Luke, leia, han, and obi wan. Now, im a huge star wars fan, but its like a chisel to my spine thinking about how obvious the connections are between all the characters. So you could say im really banking on my other story arcs to carry the weight of the "hero's journey" arc until the end when it hopefully gets interesting.
  6. Lovi

    Lovi Scribe

    From what you wrote I get the idea that your story is very generic until the end where everything is turned around. Problem with this is that the readers who want to read generic fantasy will hate the ending and won't read the next book where as the ones who want to read less generic fantasy with more twisted tropes and such won't ever reach that interesting ending of the book or series. Though, with some proper foreshadowing of the upcoming original ending, you could get both of those readers trough the book series as I see it.

    I'm very new to writing still, I've only written maybe 10k words in total after getting excited about the idea of actually maybe writing a working novel. Since then I've spent alot of time watching videos and reading about the writing craft and feel that it is time to seriously start writing a first draft. As to my WIP, I tossed aside my baby and came up with a whole new idea during maybe 6 hours of brainstorming. The plot itself is still very vague but I definitely want to try and outline it as much as possible before I start really writing, because I can't be bothered to write the text over and over as I discover something new. Discovery writing to me seems like the initial brainstorming, but only stretched to inpractical lengths.
    I'm hoping to be able to compose events that are so awesome that I myself tear up a bit. This happens often when im in that initial brainstorming phase and come up with some awesome plot hooks, though most of them don't really fit to the story.
    I don't want the story to be predictable, and simply reversing every trope also gets predictable. I want to lead the story into a standoff between several parties, where the reader would want everyone to win at once, but the nature of their goals makes it possible for only one to win. Amidst all that is the "hero" who is, to say the least, unstable.

    All this may still change but those are some of the aspects I would hope to achieve. It feels like a pretty ambitious goal as a starter so maybe, if my writing skills aren't developing fast enough, I might have to toss this idea aside for a while and work on a project with lesser viewpoints to first achieve a coherent story, but I would hope to pull off the first draft of this story. This might well prove to be too difficult, but I'm willing to put in the hours of practicing.
  7. hots_towel

    hots_towel Minstrel

    yea, i agree with this. I don't want to stroke at my ego, but I feel more confident in the other arcs of the whole story. each has their own protagonists (or anti-heroes). So im hoping that will make the story interesting enough to overlook the more or less predictable beginning to the "hero" arc

    if it makes it any better. im not going for a "chosen one fights the big evil" or corrupt empire story. im trying to include as much perspective as i can, so as not to make the opponents of the protagonists look like comic book villains
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  8. Lovi

    Lovi Scribe

    Sounds to me that having those extra protagonists will make it different enough to hold until the end, though I don't know the specifics. So I would definitely continue writing it and then see how it turned out. In worst case you will have experimented with something that either works or doesn't work, but have learned more about writing in the process.

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