Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Something Borrowed

Agents are looking for the next big thing. Publishers are looking for great voices. All are looking for the next story that moves them, speaks to them, changes their way of thinking for those several hours they dive into the book.

You want to be the one person that drives them to think about your novel for days.

However, you can't be too unique. You have to borrow a story and give it a fresh take. No, I'm not talking about plagiarizing. That's wrong (obviously).

What I'm talking about is the unique take on an old idea.

Stephanie Meyer took the old idea of a vampire and turned them into 'vegetarians' and had them live kindly among humans. That's an entirely new take on the old vampires that suck your blood.

How about J.K. Rowling's wonderful tale, Harry Potter? Wizards and witches are used to being burned at the stake, using their brooms only at night. Cackling and warts? Nah, none of the above... they attend school regularly, learn how to properly ride brooms, and laughter is just like any child. See what I mean? A new take on an old idea.

See? Something Borrowed. It doesn't just apply to weddings.

28 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Though even better than something borrowed is something unique I haven't read yet! But with a fresh enough take that's what the something borrowed can be!

Joanne said...

Sometimes it's all about that fresh spin. It draws the readers right in.

Kate said...

I always know when someone has hit the jackpot with a fresh idea when it makes me wish out loud that I had thought of it first.

Slamdunk said...

Excellent point. I think that is why reading is essential for all of us. Finding creativity and then giving it one's own signature can be a great thing.

LTM said...

Exactly! That's what I was saying Monday, and if FCC, SM and JKR do it, it must be OK... :D Have a great week, honey! :o) <3

Kelsey said...

This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes, "There are no original ideas, just original voices." Because like you pointed out, it's so true.

LynnRush said...

I like that quote, Kelsey. it's soooo true! Great post.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Agreed completely. Whenever anyone asks me where I get my ideas I have to think about the answer, b/c the truth is that the story has already been told, I'm just telling it my way this time.

K. Turley (Clutzattack) said...

As for Rowling's "something borrowed" If you haven't checked out the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, you should. I 'll shave my eyebrows off if Rowling didn't read them and take a good deal of inspiration for Harry Potter from them.

Connie Keller said...

Great point. Kelsey's quote is spot on.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love this idea. Voice and character development are way more important that "idea".

melissa said...

Great concept! It reminds me of what I always tell myself when I read a book with similar concept to my WIP - Just because it's the same base idea, doesn't mean the spin I put on it isn't unique! This helps when the book I'm reading is particularly great.

S.P. Bowers said...

Nice post. Execution is everything. How you write the idea, the characters, setting, your own voice.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I love this. Your unique spin on a story is what makes it fresh and new.

Shelley Sly said...

Good point! A trend I've been noticing lately is rewrites of fairy tales. Same basic story, but it has some kind of twist. I have ideas for a story like that myself.

J. A. Bennett said...

I think you can have a brand new idea, but there just aren't many left.

Meredith said...

Ha, so true! Some of my fave books are fairy tale retellings that take an old fairy tale and twist it. Love that!

Carrie Monroe said...

Great examples of fresh takes on familiar stories

Carolyn V said...

Love this! I've been reading some great twists on fairy tales lately. It's amazing how different they can be!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My first book was definitely a borrow on some previous stories.

Carrie Butler said...

Well said! :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

I guess that's why the evergreen themes are so popular -- they're tried & true. But to end up on my Jinga-fied nightstand, a book definitely has to have some great new notes on the old song and unforgettable characters.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

As King Solomon said, there's nothing new under the sun! :)

Krista said...

I read once that in writing fantasy - all you ever do is put new wine in old bottles. I love that analogy. It's not that we have to be totally unique - we just have do something different.

Cheryl Stahle said...

Completely agree....there are so many wonderful ideas already out there that are just begging for an update or a twist.

Teenage Bride said...

you make it all sound easy lol

Leslie Rose said...

Ditto Caroline V. Those fairy tales are crooking a "come hither" finger to be retold.

Rebecca Bradley said...

Apparently, I've read somewhere, that every story has already been told, in which case, turning an old story on its head as you say, is what's now needed. Great point.