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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

These Shoes are Different!

And they certainly got my attention! And a good plot with many different angles will, too. Yesterday, I talked about how we can make our works stand out by using interesting settings. Another way to achieve this is to use twists of plot. Like I said, most stories have already been told at least a dozen times in one way or another. But, if we can come up with a new spin on it, it's a new story. The perfect example of this is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. On the surface, this story appears to be about Jacob and his wives, Rachael and Leah, and in part it is. But, really, it is about Dinah, Leah's daughter. In the bible, her story takes up all of three or four sentences. Diamant has managed to turn that into a full length novel, and a quite good one at that, because of her unique twist on plot. If you are lucky enough, or perhaps I should say, talented enough, to come up with a never-been-done-before story, your work will stand out. If not, though, how about coming up with an interesting twist on something that has been done before? Is your plot different than anything else out there? Or have you put a special spin on it to make it different? And along those lines, how important is plot, anyway? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tess said...

You really are a shoe girl, aren't you :)

And, you are right. Few plot lines are completely original and much in literature is cyclical. It's our personal slant that makes it unique. So true.

Wend's Place said...

Yes! Shakespeare has been done so many times with a new set, time, costumes etc A new twist on an old plot can work.

However, what about writing about your own experiences? If you gather up your most entertaining and unusual experiences and develop a character that is loosely based on yourself you can write unique stories. They are unique to you and written by you too!

This can be quite a refreshing activity as well and for me is the only way to find that never-been-done-before story. With talent to create a twist too the world is your oyster or bookshop.

Strange Fiction said...

I sometimes think I've come up with an original twist--only to come across a similar idea later on.. Hate that!

Rae said...

Those are some interesting shoes. And your post is interesting too. Since I write short stories based on my experiences and perspective, I don't have to worry about finding a way to put a spin on a previous subject.
I love the twist in a story though. I like to start with the reader thinking he is heading in a particular direction and then twist it so the ending is completely unexpected.

B.J. Anderson said...

I think plot is just as important as the characters or setting. None of them can stand without the others. Great post!

Stephanie Faris said...

I believe voice is what makes the difference in every story. You and I could come up with the exact same plot and guaranteed, our execution would be completely different. By the end of it, they probably wouldn't even be recognizable as the same idea. It's all how you tackle it as opposed to how I would.

And those shoes are freaking me out!

Dawn VanderMeer said...

What perfect shoes for today's post!

It's true, there are so many great stories out there already. To be able to put a new twist on something, making it feel fresh and big, takes talent.

Patti said...

Plot is essential, at least it is to me. I agree with Stephanie. Voice is definitely what makes a difference. Someone told me once that even if she tried to write the same book as me it would be different because no one writes the same way.

Heather Sunseri said...

Yeah, I totally agree. It would be wonderful to come up with an original idea, but since that's virtually impossible, we must use our voice and our talent to make an unoriginal plot sound completely original.

jbchicoine said...

I don't think I'm particularly original at all. To be honest, I never thought about plot until my novel was pretty much finished. I just had story to tell and I figured it wouldn't leave me alone till I wrote it down.

When I started reading up on writing, I found out (to my suprise) that, wow, my story actually does have a plot. Yay.

Susan, you'll have to tell me if it's original or not...

Lazy Writer said...

I'm not as into shoes as you would think. :)

Wend's Place,
Most of my writing is based, in part, on personal experiences, plus a little imagingation.

Oh, I hate that, too!

I love it when the unexpected happens.

Yes, you are right; none of them can stand alone.

Voice is huge, and I'll be talking about that later in the week.

It does take talent, which I think we all have, so we shouldn't have a problem, right?

It is so true; two different people could never write the same story.

I agree; our individual talent is what makes our work different from others.

Yay! You have a plot. And, yes, I will let you know. :)

Cindy said...

Those are some weird shoes!

I think my stories are still on the safe side, without many plot twists, so I usually try to punch them up with really delving into the characters. Writing characters that are relatable and really stand out to readers.

Kristen Torres-Toro @ Write in the Way said...

Hi, Susan! It's nice to meet you! Those shoes definitely made me look twice!

I'd like to think that my plot is unique. It's like nothing I've read so far--in a good way. But then again, there are a lot of books out there. And a lot of writers. And while I know my story was completely an original, I sometimes wonder if there's anyone out there who thinks like me. My worst fear is finding "my book" written by someone else on the shelves and having to scratch what I so believe in. Do you know that feeling?

FictionGroupie said...

I think it's hard to be "completely" original. There are archetypes and story arcs that most people stick to: the hero's journey, the coming of age story, rhe starcrossed lovers etc.

However, I agree with those who say voice can make all the difference. I also try to put twists and surprises in my plot. Hopefully that makes the story stand out from the others.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

Novels #1 and #3, I worked with the twist. Novel #2 very unique plot.

One look at those shoes and I thought that is what I've felt like my whole life. :D

~ Wendy

Amy Tate said...

Oh yea...plot is everything. Especially one that can't be figured out in chapter one. Those are the kinds of books that I can't put down.

Janna Qualman said...

I agree with the post above me, in that it's hard to be totally original with plot and storyline. It can be done. But I think more crucial than anything is voice. A new spin. Yes, the plot twists, but making the characters come alive, giving the reader something to relate to, aspire to, live for.

IMHO. :)

Jody Hedlund said...

I think plot is so crucial for holding the attention of reader's today! I love finding new twists and ways of telling the already-used plots.

Jenn Johansson said...

I love twists! They make stories worth reading. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm having troubles getting my novel idea to the never been done before point, or at least to the new wrinkle point. It's very tough.

Beth said...

Those shoes literally make me cringe, but leave it to you to make a creative analogy out of it! I think plot is absolutely important! Otherwise your reader is just left to decipher meaning from randomness, and I just don't have time for you? :) I think I'm using a "done before" plot, but HOPEFULLY I'm spinning it so it doesn't seem like old hat! Great post!

Dominique said...

I once read an interesting book that was obviously the Cinderella story. However, with the new setting, unique characters, and interesting alterations that the author made, the old tale was made new again for the reader, and though the tale was recognizable, it did not feel 'done.'

Lazy Writer said...

Yes, characters are very important, too.

Nice to meet you, too! Thanks for joining us. And I also have that fear of finding my story in someone elses book.

Fiction Groupie,
Those twists are what make a been done before story stand out.

I know what you mean.

I like to have an idea of the general plot right from the beginning, too.

Voice is crucial.

I think plot is so important, too. Especially with YA.

Twists are great!

Struggling Writer,
It is tough, isn't it?

They make me cringe, too.

I've read books like that, and in fact, admire the authors for being able to pull it off.

Rick & Monique Elgersma said...

My stories are Character Driven. But I do try to create unique situations and develop unique plot turns to help the reader a bit.

Terri Tiffany said...

I really tried hard to punch of my plot line with this recent book. Whenever I thought my character had it too easy, I threw in something else to bring it up a notch. I guess I will know in a few months if anyone else thinks I did enough!
As to writing a synopsis, Jill K. helped me so much. She knew how to bring them to life and put it right in the moment. Still playing with my query lines--not sure how to make it stand out.

Shelli said...

how do you find these? or are you photoshopping :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I wish I could write from plot, but everything tends to be character driven....but, that's what I love! :) I've had people say my writing, or at least TG, is unique, and that makes me happy :)

Tabitha Bird said...

Love the shoes! Plot lines reveal themselves to me as a write. At least that is what I am finding with my first novel. I get bored if I think I know the ending. and I have a couple of very strong women in my book who are quite sure they know what is going on :)

Faith said...

As cyclical as plot can be, books without any plot at all frustrate me... what can I say, I'm not big on 'modern literary fiction' or any of that experimental stuff. I want plot, I want it complex & full of conflict... rehash if you need to, just add some colorful twists and turns to make it 'different' in some way!

On that note, I thought Diamante did an excellent job with 'The Red Tent'. I went in skeptical, and came out impressed. Definitely something for aspiring historical fiction novelists to take notes on!

WhisperingWriter said...

Hrm, my plot is a little different but not much...I mean, it's going to have a small twist at the end but not a huge one. I write chick lit so it's never anything totally profound anyway but still..

Midlife Jobhunter said...

If your characters suck, no one will want to read them in any plot. And if your plot sucks, then you had better hope your characters can pull you through. Guess I think characters are most important as they provide the impetis for the plot. Wish comment boxes had spellchecks. Impatis Impetes Whatever, you know what I men.

My plot is different and I hope I have strong characters.

Anonymous said...

If your shoes could talk, what would they say? Do they have a story?

Weronika said...

Woah, awesome picture. Sweet. :D

I never really thought about making my plot unique. I found a voice that needed to speak, but thankfully I think my twists and turns have never been done before.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I love all your shoe metaphors!

I'm firmly in the camp that believes character drives the plot. If I care about the people, the plot can go anywhere and I'll stick around for the ride.