Here's the topic: How do you keep from telling the same story over and over? What are your tips and tricks for finding fresh ideas and adding new twists to your work?
Um, I don't? I've written lots and lots of things. 4 complete novels in various stages of editing, revising and curing. I'm writing something new right now. I've started and abandoned half a dozen other stories. I've written oh, maybe 4 short stories. So how in the world do I keep things fresh?
Not very well. Sometimes I'll think, "Oh my gosh, this sounds exactly like Control Issues." Or, "Freak! Gabby did this in Elemental Hunger."
So I have to stretch myself. I don't like it. It's like that wheel of torture on The Princess Bride. I feel like that. Then I realized (when I was looking for a pic) that that thing isn't really a wheel. So that sort of freaked me out. All this time, I thought it was a wheel. Well, there are wheels in the picture, so use your imagination.
Ahem. Back to keeping things fresh. I have two things I try to do:
1. Listen to my characters. Kat had a super-fantastic post on characters and letting them drive the story. This is what I do. The characters for each novel should be authentic enough to propell the story in a different direction. From the things they say, how they react, to what they choose to wear/eat and what their motivation is should be enough to lend diversity to your stories. I feel like I've talked a lot about characters this week. Click to meet Jag and here for dialog.
2. Decide on my style of writing. I've written some novels where it's very straightforward, just tell the story with all the commas in the right place. Heck, I even used semi-colons. Other things are more literary. Still others are more...something. In between? Maybe. But I try to mix up the styles a little bit, so it's not only the stories and characters that are different, but it's the actual writing that is different too.
My writing style is most often influenced by what I read and/or my mood and/or whether or not I have Ginger Ale in the house or Adam Lambert on repeat. haha.
So I read The Book Thief and went through this period of
Then I read Wintergirls. I so want to write like this. My current WiP is sort of in this type of writing where it's all angsty and periods and commas and stuff aren't really that important. A semi-colon would never be invited to this party. We'll see how it goes. Already it's making the writing different. The way the characters are "allowed" to speak and narrate makes a huge difference, and that makes a unique novel with a different twist. It's not necessarily the idea. It's all contributed to the writing style.
Okay, three items. Oh, come on. You knew it was coming.
3. Write with the intent to delete. No matter what, I just keep writing. Sometimes this means major deletage if things don't work. Whether that be plot items that are too similar or voice that's too similar, it doesn't matter. I am not afraid of the delete key.
So what do you do to keep things fresh? Sometimes I use Febreeze and my daughter refuses to go a day without spraying the Lysol. Four-year-olds are funny like that. Too bad those aerosol sprays don't work in Word....