To produce a mighty book, you must produce a mighty theme.
~ Herman Melville
This quote brought to mind something that happened about four years ago. I was at Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference in California. My second time in attendance and I loved the classes. At one point, we sat in a circle, with two instructors leading a discussion. They asked that we share our ideas for our current story, and then gave us feedback. When my turn came, I told them what the story was about. One of the instructors looked at me, serious as can be, and said:
“What makes your story unique?”
Huh? I elaborated on the key points, not sure what else to say, feeling like she’d put me on the spot, though I know it wasn’t her intention.
When I didn’t say more, feeling at the centre of attention, with all eyes on me, and probably turning several shades of red, I stared at her for a moment, and then at what I thought was my well-prepared synopsis. She repeated the question, this time stressing each word.
“I’ve read stories that deal with that. What separates yours from the others?
What makes it unique?”
Angela’s words stayed with me. I’m thankful she asked that question. She had me thinking outside the box, looking for a different approach. Something unique as she said so well. After the class, I went to thank her.
Later, while writing my story, I had to keep asking myself what made it stand out. How was it different from the others?
Take a romance novel. I love a love story! From the start, you know the hero and heroine will end up together at the end of the book. The question is HOW. What struggles will they overcome from start to finish? Of course, each story is different.
In suspense stories, you never know what will happen next. At least that’s the main focus in writing suspense, keeping your readers guessing, and turning the pages.
So how do you write a unique story that sets it apart from all others?
- Do your research.
- READ. Read books in the genre you write. Read books in different genres as well.
In my opinion, those are the best ways to see what’s out there. Then, you’ll know how to make it different.
Emma’s Prayer is about a teen mom. There are plenty of stories out there about teen moms. After she puts her son up for adoption, she changes her mind and wants him back. Yup, there are stories about that too. Mine has a deaf character in the story, but it’s not the only one that deals with the deaf people.
So, what made it unique?
I’m not going to give you any spoilers but I will say this: she had to do something unexpected. Am I saying mine’s the only story with that twist? Certainly not. But I do hope I had my readers guessing and turning the pages.
Are you writing predictable novels? What makes your story different from others in that genre?