Reaching for that Goal of Originality

Last night I sat down and started to write for the first time in a few weeks. One child was in bed and the other quietly watching Puss in Boots for the fourth time (one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen). A full cup of tea at the ready, and I was set.

I worked on my short story for the Rockingham Creative Writing Competition. I gave myself one hour in which to make meaningful progress on the story. I had the idea (completely different from the one I’ve outlined in a previous post), and I needed to fill it out, give my characters voice and personality, and above all, weave a great story.

It went well and was productive but the main area I’m struggling with is predictability and being original. I believe the mark of a great writer is not only the ability to produce beautifully written text but having the skill of creating plots that surprise you and keep you interested.

As with many competitions, an image has been provided to inspire the story. (Please refer to the artwork below, Brothers, by Cherry Lee.) I am finding that as I write, my readers will be able to predict where my story is going, and thus be disappointed with the tale I have tell.

2013-Cherry-Lee%2c-Brothers-(1999)

 

Sometimes, I admit, readers like to be right and guess where the plot is heading. They like to be able to guess the ending and feel satisfied by the story because it ended the way they believed it should. However, I don’t think this is exciting enough, its not teaching the reader anything new. I don’t think it would be a story that readers would remember vividly, and have play on their minds afterwards. A great story is one that has a lasting effect due to its originality.

Outrageous twists are probably not the answer but perhaps something memorable and meaningful, a story that touches readers and leaves them feeling better off for having read it.

In reality, being able to write a piece like this is difficult. Each new idea I come up with I usually knock back because my audience will find it too predictable. Luckily I have until the 11th October, 2013 to complete this story, so I may find myself sitting in front of my laptop with a cuppa on many more occasions, reaching for my goal of originality. (As I’m sure every other author out there does!)

Like I commented above I found my hour to be very productive. My story is taking shape and I will definitely share my first draft when it is ready. Unfortunately after my hour is up, my mind is still going, searching for that plot point which will enrich the tale. I believe if I had more free time in my day I would drive myself crazy with many different versions of this story!

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2 responses to “Reaching for that Goal of Originality

  • gabrielablandy

    This was a really interesting insight into your process. You are so right when you talk about originality, or unpredictability. But I also find that some of my favourite short stories writers write stories about ordinary events – they simply tell it in a different way. For me, originality of detail can enrich a common plot. I’ve tried to do this myself this week with a simple short story that I posted, which I have tried to tell in a interesting way, with concrete detail.
    The other thing I find, in terms of predictability, is that we are conditioned from reading to develop plots in certain ways. It helps to spend a little longer thinking about a story so that you are sure your own instincts are driving it, rather than patterns you have learnt from reading others’ stories. Good luck with your piece. It sounds like you are on the right track by being so self aware.

    • becomeawriteroneday

      Thank you for your comment. I think you are right, stories about everyday life with originality in the detail are the best. I suppose this is what I’m striving for and having difficulty with.
      I’ll check out some of your writing. Thanks!

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