Better to Be Original or Good?

A writer should have something to say. And the writer should say it with as much originality as possible. Many novel writers worry that their premise isn’t original enough. But are they worrying about the right things?
Writing Tip for Today: Writing a highly original concept is a worthy goal. But should it be all-consuming? Consider these things:

  • Nothing New. Supposedly, there are only 12 plots (or a different number depending on the source). These few story lines have been written in many variations over the generations. You might come up with a new mash-up of old story lines. Think Incredible Hulk meets Cinderella (don’t try this at home!). But you are probably going to borrow at least part of a story set up.
  • Convoluted? When I try too hard to come up with an original or unique plot, it ends up looking like a very bad pretzel. Check to see if your idea is smooth enough for the average reader to follow. Test it out on a few writers or friends, but hardly ever your spouse or mom who loves or hates everything you write.
  • Put Energy Where it Counts. Far better than an original plot, in my little opinion, are solid writing skills, the ability to create mounting tension or rising action with every scene, and the skill to force your reader to follow the protagonist to the very end. To be able to do these things takes practice–lots of it. One way to get loads of practice is to do NaNoWRiMo–National Novel Writing Month, which begins in November each year. How about you? Are you planning to do NaNo this year?

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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