Is it possible to create a truly original story? Something that no one else has thought up and written down? A story that bears no resemblance to anything else you’ve read? I think you’d be hard pressed to find something truly unique.
Romance stories definitely follow a formula. Meeting, falling in love, conflict and happy resolution. Mysteries, while they may vary in the format of killing, theft or otherwise, still come out the same in the end. Fantasies and science fiction might show you something different on occasion but it still ends up feeling the same. Some sort of quest, maybe over several books, and then a… Well, if not happy, they come to some kind of ending. Except for A Song of Ice and Fire. That series might never end. 🙂
I often wonder, even as I’m writing something new for me, if someone out there has already written what I have. And maybe done it better. The question that then follows is, should I even bother to keep writing?
Well, of course I will. I enjoy writing just for the simple mechanics of it, as well as crafting a story that I would like to read myself. I enjoy experimenting with different points of view and formats, and writing in different genres. I still prefer writing romance overall, though I still don’t quite know why. I think it’s the ‘safest’ genre for me, if I want to put it that way. Yes, romance are all the same in their basic concepts, but it’s still a hugely popular genre and a billion-dollar a year industry. So… Same or not I’ll keep doing it. Plus, I just love a good romance.
Maybe if I read in a few more genres, branched out a bit, I might find more unique offerings. I already mentioned George Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. There’s also Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. I’ve never come across anything else like that. Maybe there’s more variety in murder mysteries and horror. I just don’t have any interest in reading those. Tough for me to make a call on that.
So back to my original question. How does a writer move past the question of being truly original? Should a writer even attempt to be truly original? Each writer has to decide for themselves, I suppose.
My own biggest problem is not creating a story unique from everything else published out there. It’s writing something that’s unique from my own stories. I’ve written quite a few of the hockey-themed romance stories, as you may already know. I have plans and ideas for several more but I suppose I’ve hit a bit of a block with actually writing them. I don’t know if it’s because I can’t find a somewhat original way to write them, or if I’m bored of the series. I don’t think it’s that, though, now that I’ve written it. I still love hockey and love to romanticize it in any way I can, even though the hockey players are probably less than romantic in real life. 😉 Hey, that’s what romance and stories are for, right? Entertainment and fantasy!
When I branch out into other genres, I end up writing something that feels unique and brand new to me. Obviously. Like “Body of Water” and “Bring on the Wonder”. Those were two wholly new works for me and in all honesty, I’ve never read anything like them. Of course, they’re stories in genres that I don’t typically read, so the other readers of those genres can be the judge of that. But I suppose that’s how I exercise my brain and writing skills when I worry about being original. I start by being original to me, and then maybe it’ll shake something loose for my other stories.
Like I said before, I’m going to keep writing whatever I feel like. Sometimes it’ll be well-received, and other times, maybe not so much. But if negative reviews stopped me, I probably would never have progressed beyond my very first. And my second-grade teacher gave me a glowing review so maybe I got lucky!
Take care and happy reading!