Monday, February 8, 2010

Think Your Story is Original? Think Again!!

Before I get into my blog, I want to tell everyone about a good friend of all of us at M&M, a fellow Book Cents Babe who will guest blog on Wednesday. Anita Clenney will tell us about chasing the elusive dream from starting out as a wannabe writer to publication. She's pretty qualified to talk about this since she just got the call on her Scottish warrior paranormal romance. Yeah, Anita. I'll let her tell you the juicy details on Wednesday.

Now onto the topic.

Okay, you've come up with an original idea...Oh wait! You read a book similar to that several years ago, or you saw an episode of "Law and Order" that was kinda like it. Actually, you can think of several stories that used your "original" premise.

Now quit whining and keep reading. "How can you come up with an original idea?" you ask. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you probably can't. Now don't go getting all discouraged on me. The truth is, unless you've come up with a plot line so far out there no one else has attempted it, you're using a "tried and true" idea.

To quote NY Times Bestseller and fantastic motivational speaker, Bob Mayer, every idea has already been done. The difference comes in the "transfer to story, usually through unique character, unique setting, unique POV and unique intent."

Easy for him to say!

My Romantic Suspense is about a team of operatives whose main character is a woman who's emerged from a deep undercover assignment scarred because of what a certain villain did to her. This is so great, I thought. I am so freakin' creative, sometimes I scare myself.

Anyone watching "24" this season? Renee could be my heroine. A woman so psychologically damaged by a bad guy, she thinks no one could ever love her again.

Well hell!

Then I came up with a great story about my Bunco group. I've known some of these women over twenty years. We laugh together, cry together, even vacation once a year together. There is no collection of funnier women on this planet. I'm back to being a legend in my own mind again.

Found "Bunco Babes Gone Wild" by Maria Geraci when I Googled Bunco.

Well double hell!

I hope by now you're getting the message and already thinking about ways to turn your "original" idea into a great story. I'd love to hear how you're going to do it.

Oh, I almost forgot. I do have one story about a woman who has to steal a sperm specimen from a perfect stranger. Bet you've never seen that one at Barnes and Noble!


Edie Ramer said...

Too funny. I wrote a blog last night that will post on Magical Musings tomorrow. It's about using ideas from movies, TV shows and songs, and making them your own. One of the ideas I mentioned is from "Law and Order." lol

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Edie, I guess "great minds" think alike. I'll be sure to hop over to your blog tomorrow to check out how you tackle the problem. (remind me.)
Y'all should,too.

Thanks for the comment.

Mary Martinez said...

Liz, This is so true. Every time I tell my hubby about an idea he say's 'Been done before' and it makes me want to grind my teeth. Because of course he is correct.

Great blog!

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, the next time hubby says that to you, challenge him to come up with an original one. That should be good for a few laughs. The male mind is way different than ours, and I can hear it now. A trio of double "D" women take on evil and injustice and come out "ON TOP". Oh wait, isn't that "Charlie's Angels???" LOL

Thanks for commenting.

Anita Clenney said...

I hear you sister. I have a Keeper of the Book in my series and I hadn't seen it anywhere else (must have been blind) until I was browsing the bookstore, and there on the backcover blurb...Keepers. Then I found Watchers, yeah I have them too. Shall we talk about Minders and Seekers? Well, I knew Seekers had been used, they're common, but I should have realized that the others were too.

It was kind of disheartening, then I realized that it could actually add validation to my world. People who are likely to read my book will be familiar with those terms. Even though mine are unique in how they function, the reader will identify as they would with something like vampires or werewolves or SpecOps guys.

BTW, love the idea about the sperm speciman from the stranger.

SG Redling said...

Been there, sister. I guess the truth is there are only so many stories in the human experience. What the world needs is YOUR take on it, your voice, your sense of impact. And if you can throw in a stolen sperm sample, well, all the better...

Lindsay said...

Even if the, for some reason, the idea isn't original. I think the fun comes in making and taking the idea/concept my own. Adding my twist. All you marvelous ladies could be given the same story idea and each, in your own way, would come up with a totally new/different storyline that wouldn't be reflected in any of the others.
Isn't that what seperates us all? The ability to make something our own.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anita, I agree the fact that you found your "original" names weren't so original after all only means some people may identify with them. If they've been used by a big-name author, all the better.

My sperm story, BTW, is a really cool mystery which Christine will probably sell after I'm rich and famous. LOL

Kris Yankee said...

I agree with Lindsay - we all have our own way of thinking and writing, and that's what makes everyone's story unique. I don't believe I've ever come up with an "original" idea because somewhere out there, I'm sure it's been done before. It's great to think that **this** story will be so new that everyone will want to read it. And it is new because I'm telling it in my own way. Now, I just need to convince "other" people that they **need** to read my stories.

Liz Lipperman said...

Sheila, I agree, it can't hurt to throw in a little stolen sperm!!

Seriously, I think you are right on the money when you say your TAKE on a story is what makes it original. My goal is for a reader to be able to read a first chapter and know instantly I am the author, kinda like when you hear a new song and know who's singing it.

Thanks for commenting.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, thanks for finding Me here. (For those who don't already recognize him from the picture, Lindsay is the guy who sat with us at he bar one night at Nationals while Christine and I worked on his pitch with him.

Anyway, Lindsay, it's funny you mentioned how we all could be given a subject and come up with different approaches to it. At our BC dinner in DC, we played a game where Christine gave us a topic and we went around the table. Each one had a minute to add to the story. The Ya writers gave us the story of two young girls in a dilemma.Then there were the fantasy/paranormal girls who added fairies and caves where their powers didn't work. And of course I added witness protection. I don't think anyone wanted to steal the idea for their net book when we finished, but we did have fun with it!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Kris, I agree. It would be fun to get us all together and do the exercise I mentioned to Lindsay.

Obviously, we all have our own voices, and hopefully, they are good enough to entice other people to read them.

Thanks for commenting.

Melanie Atkins said...

Hahaha... Well hell, Liz. Hate to tell you, but L & O SVU did a show a few years ago about people stealing sperm from men. It involved using a cattle prod... And or the sake of all of us. I won't explain any further. lol I'm sure you'll go in a different direction. (Please tell me you will. lol)

Liz Lipperman said...

See, Mel, that just really validates my point. And you can rest easy - there are no cattle prods in my story!!

One of these days you'll have to tell me how they did it. My imagination is running wild.

Cassy Pickard said...

Folks this was a total hoot. We went around the table maybe six times, each adding to the plot line. If you were listening in, you'd know exactly who wrote which genre. By the end we all were not only completely confused and needed recaps, but also were laughing so hard I'm surprised we didn't need to Heimlich anyone.

So true, we all have our approaches. Thank goodness for that.

Cassy Pickard said...

Okay, Cassy again. My message was posted with the first paragraph missing. I was referring to Liz's reference to the dinner we all shared at Nationals. I was having the same reaction to Liz's post and then, ta da, read Liz's comment referring to the same.

Anonymous said...

King Solomon wrote a long time ago that there is nothing new under the sun. Maybe he was having writer's block, too.

Mary Marvella said...

I suspect my stories have original twists when my CPs say, "No, you can't do that." "The villain must kidnap the heroine, not her best friend."

I don't want to write a story I've read a dozen times. I had a professional killer who made my CPs crazy because he didn't behave like one. That was the idea!

Liz Lipperman said...

Cassie, that really was a fun thing, and it was so obvious what genre each of wrote.

Thanks for checking in from sunny California. Hope you're having a good time.

Liz Lipperman said...

Anonymous,King Soloman was a wise man. Thanks for commenting and keep coming back.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, obviously you are adding new twists and your wonderful voice to your stories, just like Bob Mayer suggested.

Keep it up, girlfriend.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Oh yeah, Cassy, that exercise at DC was really enlightening. Made you think on the spot and really showed who wrote what.

Great post again Liz!

Christine_wv said...

The exercise in D.C. of Where Will The Story Go? was fun.

The story can go anywhere depending on the mood you're in, what's on your mind, if -OH is involved :), etc..

It's a ton of fun when you get a bunch of people to participate. It also helps people get to know each other better :)