The Single Best Trick for Originality in Your Fiction
This week’s video from one of our favorite’s K.M. Weiland, shares the most important question you can ask yourself about originality in your fiction and how to access it in every single scene.
Originality is an important quality test for fiction—although perhaps not quiteas much as we like to make out. Pulitzer-winner Willa Cather tells us,
There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they never happened.
But the fact remains that originality is, if nothing else, a tremendous marketing point for our books. So how do we find it?
I’ve talked before about how the most original thing you can bring to any story is yourself—your own unique views and experiences. But it does go a little deeper than that. There are definite techniques we can employ to seek out and take advantage of the potential for originality in our stories.
The biggest one comes as the result of the answer to the simple question:What is originality? Originality, I think we can all agree, is simply the unexpected. It’s something new. It’s something readers haven’t already experienced or thought up on their own before reading it in the pages of your book.
As such, the question you then need to ask yourself is: What would be unexpected in your story? And you need to ask this not just for the premise in general, but for every moment in your story.
George Armitage’s Grosse Pointe Blank is a good example of this. Aside from the generally original premise of a professional killer attending his high school reunion, you’ve also got very original choices at almost every juncture.
- Do we expect him to visit a psychiatrist?
- Do we expect that psychiatrist to keep scheduling him an appointment even though he’s refused to treat him?
- Do we expect the jilted high school sweetheart to kiss him the first time he sees her?
- Do we expect him to tell everyone the straight-up truth whenever he’s asked what he does for a living?