One thing we worry about as writers is being original. Often, the concern comes along with the overwhelming realization that most, if not all ideas have already been done. Ours are hardly the first stories with peasant dragonslayers and worlds with elves. Whatever we want to write about has been touched, tainted, done better or worse than we could have managed.
The good news is that readers like the same types of stories, just told in new and interesting ways. In their search for what’s familiar, they long for that which is unique enough to provide them with a different perspective. The dance of storytelling then becomes a beautiful combination of well-loved tropes told by an individual (the writer) who is unique in the world and can only tell the story in their own certain way.
Placing your unique perspective into your writing happens naturally, since what we create comes from a deeper part of us. It also happens consciously by what (and who) you choose to place in your work, by the messages you choose to convey and themes you explore. In this article, we will cover three ways that you can add a more unique touch to your work.
This directly ties with plot and story theme. The main question is probably what your book is about, a question you want answered or a possibility to investigate. Plot is a tool used in order to provide answers (what happens in a story and for what purpose).
A good tactic to use no matter where you are in the plotting or brainstorming process. I use this method to ask all kinds of questions about my characters before I start writing. Once the ball gets rolling it’s easier to continue asking more questions. Think about what you’re curious about, things you may want to learn about or do research on, maybe a life question you would like to delve into. The information that comes forth springs from you and no else. It will be unique to your life journey and will affect how you write your book.
How does this happen?
I ask this question a lot in reference to my characters. How do they meet? How long does it take for them to realize their story calling? How do they react to it? Ultimately, characters are our creations and represent people or personalities who fascinate us.
Use What You Know
Or what you understand. I know absolutely nothing about swords except for that there are many different kinds. I don’t understand battle or know much about war tactics. But I am a lover of the great outdoors and understand the constant threat of danger in the wilderness. I know about boreal forests and mountains and what it’s like living in these places. Many of my stories take place in wooded areas during bad weather. I use personal experience to literally use the elements as conflict.
You don’t have to be an expert in anything in order to write books. You just have to be passionate about something, and even if it’s small make a big deal out of it. Draw from your experience as a human in this world and put those feelings on the page, thoughts and experiences into your characters.
Everyone is different and experiences humor various ways. We’re wired to laugh and have fun. Try to do this with your writing.
What makes you laugh.
Characters in confusing predicaments make me giggle so I like to add this into my work. Maelstroms, misunderstandings and random silliness are ways I like to insert humor. Humor is kind of a weird one because you can miss the mark and fall flat on your joke. All I can say is that finesse in this regard comes with practice and an appreciation for what you specifically find funny.
What your audience might find entertaining.
Getting to know your audience also comes with time given that it’s a relationship but if you can give them a taste of you by trying to make them laugh. If you are good at writing dialogue then maybe add in witty lines or ridiculous banter. Maybe it’s an awkward love scene that also sizzles or a magic spell goes all wrong. Consider the type of story you’re writing, keep the reader in mind, and explore that humorous side of you.
Putting It All Together
Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the fact that others have come before you and told similar stories. They are not you. There is still so much that can be created, processed, and shared by you as a unique writer by becoming bolder in your work. Exploring themes and answering hypothetical questions allows your curiosity to enter the world by the medium of art, specifically your novel. Using your talents and knowledge as part of your work adds more of you as a person and humor breaks the ice between you and your audience.
Have you found these tips helpful? What other tactics do you use in order to place a personal imprint in your work? What is one subject you are fond of that you like to add in your stories? Do you see recurring themes in your writing?