Saturday, March 27, 2010

Originality: Trends and Plots

Let's talk some about originality in our writing.  One of the writers on the SCBWI boards said recently that she didn't think there was any originality left in writing any more.  That everything that could be done had been done, and all that was left was to follow the newest trend.

Think about that for a minute.  Right now the "trend" seems to be about vampires...The Vampire Diaries, The Vampire Academy, and of course, the Twilight series, which seemed to start it all.  But before that, it was fantasy...look at what Harry Potter and the Eragon books by Christopher Paolini did for the world of writing.

Do you want to follow a trend, or start one?  The problem with following trends is that by the time you've written the book, had it accepted and published, whatever trend your book is like may no longer be popular, and indeed, may have been totally forgotten.  Restarting that particular trend is problematical, at best.

So how about starting a new trend?  How do you do that?  How do you know what kids are going to want to read in two or three years, depending upon how long it takes to get your book written and published?  The answer to that is, most definitely, we don't know what kids will want to read.  We're not even sure what they want to read now, are we?  So predicting future interests is merely a waste of time.

Fantasy will always be valued by kids.  Many kids today, especially teens, use fantasy as a way to escape what's happening to them in the real world:  bullying, drugs, self-abuse...the list goes on.  But there are so many different kinds of fantasy: the world of magic, per Harry Potter; dragons like Eragon; the child heroes like Percy Jackson; and the list goes on.

How do you decide on what kind of "trend" you want to start, and then how do you impart originality to that trend?  Paranormal books will probably always be popular, so if you're "in" to that sort of thing, this might be a good trend to look into.  All you need is a different idea. After all, if vampires can go to high school, couldn't ghosts do the same thing?  Or, how about taking an historical era and writing a paranormal story about that?  The Civil War should be a good stomping ground to write about ghosts...or how about the Victorian era?  I've lived in an old Victorian house that held a ghost...I was too young at the time to write about it, but it would make a good backdrop for a story now.

All you really need is a good plot...but that's a topic for tomorrow.  So for now, I guess the idea is...don't follow a trend, start one!

Think about it.  Let me know.

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