Musings

The “Original Story” Issue

We’ve all heard that there is no such thing as an original story. We’ve read Aesop’s fables and tales from the ancient Vedas from India, perhaps. We’ve seen Campbell’s books on the Hero’s Journey and how every story reflects some elements of his structured system on the Journey.

So, what’s a writer to do when they feel their story isn’t original? When you just want to stop writing your story, or God forbid, stop writing altogether?

Lately I’ve been thinking on this issue of craft, and how to really work on making your story as engaging, original, and yours as possible. After all, we all have some deep story inside of us, right? I’m not poking fun here, either. I mean it. I just read an article recently in Poet’s & Writer’s Magazine about Judy Blume’s most recent book, In the Unlikely Event.

Judy Blume had blocked out her childhood memory of a plane crashing in her town, killing tons of passengers. When the memory started to poke it head out, she started to write the book. It took a lot more research than her other books, and it stuck more closely to real life than any of her books had, she said. But it felt so satisfying, she says in the interview in P&W. She felt that if that book was her last, well, so be it. She would gladly go out with that bang as her last.

Each of us may not have so moving a story, a thing so close to our hearts that is itching to get out. But I do believe we all have something to say; hopefully, many somethings. We wouldn’t be writing otherwise.

So when you’re sitting on your bed groaning that the latest TV hype show has stolen your novel idea…don’t despair. Why? Because you have something to say, and you are an individual unlike anyone else. Even if someone’s idea was similar, your story delivery, method, style, characters, what-have-you, will be different and will stand out.

For example, we’ve had a slew of books in the past few years about young people being in life-or-death competitions. Susan Collins’ Hunger Games broke the ice. Now we have Mazerunner and so many others. But did these people give up and say, “No, I can’t, Susan Collins already did it in her Hunger Games books”?

Nope. They sat down and wrote that damn novel. And their books became bestsellers who were also made into movies. You can do it, too.

I can encourage you all I want, but ultimately it’s takes grabbing the reins to really feel confident. I’ve been reading some great articles on honing your writing craft that have made me feel more confident in my ability to churn out a good story, revise it, and finish the damn thing.

Here are my readings for your perusal:

  1. Dave King’s “The Art of Transparency” over at the Writer Unboxed website
  2. The Artist’s Way Workbook by Julia Margaret Cameron
  3. Perusing the bestseller list and studying what they do that works so well – what do they do that’s similar that you can emulate, and what do particular authors do so well that other authors don’t seem able to manage? Study, study, and practice what you’ve discovered.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King
  5. What Discouraged Young Writers Should Know
  6. If You’re Discouraged Because Your Writing Sucks

I would love to hear what people have to say after reading this post, and after reading the articles, if any of them helped you out.

Until next time!

– Chaitanya

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One thought on “The “Original Story” Issue

  1. Nice article! I recently finished ‘On writing’ by Stephen King, and found that very helpful in a pragmatic kind of way. It’s easy to get caught up in the abstract, conceptual side of writing (well that’s what writing is, right?) but it seems like many successful writers just get on with it, and treat it like a job, albeit a very creative one.

    Liked by 1 person

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