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I’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE

February 27, 2013

            The other night, I read a chapter from Meleena’s Adventures – Gods Of The Blue Mountains. I received some great feedback, as usual. However, one newer member made the comment, “It sounds like Lord Of The Rings… the spiders and everything.”

            My answer was, “Of course it does! Same genre, a few of the same species, but by no means is it the same story. Sorry, I’m not changing it, just because of that.” Because of time constraints, I couldn’t elaborate.

            A few days later, one of my fellow bloggers did a piece on how she’s getting sick of certain plots, or plots with the same flavors. I took the opportunity to continue my elaboration which I’ve said here in these blogs piece by piece.

            In every genre and sub-genre, every story, every plot has been done. Period. Over and over again. Period. A murder mystery is a murder mystery. Someone gets killed, some quirky detective finds out whodunit. Or, in a twist, the story is told through the eyes of the killer.

            In a western, they head ‘em off at the pass. In a variety of ways, from the scruffy simple cowboy to the tall dark handsome easterner come out west, to the oat-opera.

            In a (yuck) vampire story, it’s usually a bloody romance, though if it’s truly horror (icky bug), it can be a real splatter-fest with little romance.

            I could go on and on, but the point is that every one of these genres and sub-genres have been done before. Of course, there are the (to coin a modern catchphrase) mash-ups. Steampunk is an example of combining multiple genres, multiple plotlines. Or, sci-fi/fantasy which is one reason they are often lumped together on the bookshelves.

            The more you mix, the harder it is to slot it on a bookshelf (or virtual shelf now). Doesn’t matter. You can stick to conventional genres and still be unique. Why? Because it’s your voice.

            Why are there thousands of mystery novels out there? Why don’t people get tired of reading them? Because different people write them! How many plots are there? On source says between three and thirty six. However, the better range would be between seven and nine which provides a much narrower focus. Those plots can be mixed and matched any way you want but they all still boil down to one plot: someone wants something and they’re either going to get it or they aren’t.

            How you get from point A to point B is an individual journey based upon your unique outlook, your talent as a writer and your voice. So, no matter that someone accuses you of writing another Lord Of The Rings, or Twilight, DaVinci Code or Murder On The Orient Express, unless you copy their entire manuscript, it’s your own story.

            For a long time, almost every writer I ran across was either writing a memoir or a cushy vampire story. Did I tell them to forget about it and write something else? Did I tell them the market was already saturated with vampire stories? Did I tell them unless they were a celebrity or had a really unique event in their life, their memoir probably wouldn’t sell? Sure, but did I tell them not to write it? Of course not. There is always the chance that with their voice, with their unique journey, they could rise above everyone else.

            When writing in any genre, no matter how unique you think your story might be, the only way it is truly unique is that you are telling it (or gag, showing it). Sure, you want to make it as different as possible, but relax, let it flow, don’t get too hung up on being different just trying to outfox those critics that think you’re copying someone else. You are! You may not even realize it but you are, so get over it and press on. It can’t be helped.

            Make sure it’s your own voice and press on. With that thought in mind, happy writing!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2013 4:55 pm

    Great post! Very encouraging. I guess those writers that can’t be put off – that will write their story no matter what, are the ones that make it in the end. And I think there is a reason that patterns occur in stories – we love them. But yes, if the voice offers something new then it really shines.

    • March 4, 2013 1:13 am

      Gabriela,

      Thanks! That’s right. If an author is true to their craft, they’ll follow their muse and keep on writing. That’s what I did. I never worried one second over whether it had been done before and I never will. What has never been done before is ME writing THAT story.

      Rock on!

      Fred

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