O Is For Originality

For the Blogging From A to Z Challenge I’m doing you all a huge favor and filling you in on the 26 Things To Hate About Writing.** I’m hoping by the end of April, I will have convinced all of you not to indulge in the wild insanity of becoming a writer. If I can save even one person from offering themselves up in sacrifice to the mad and fickle word gods, I will have done some good in this world.

Check out each letter’s post here.

ORIGINALITY

When I was 14 I started writing, and I wanted to write just like Stephen King, whom I adored. It turns out I couldn’t write like Stephen King, because he has magical powers that I didn’t possess at the time: mainly, the ability to create coherent plots, believable characters, and a firm grasp of grammar and story structure. All THAT minor stuff aside, I was just like him because I wrote about murder and vampires.

A lot of us start out imitating our favorite authors and stories, because we need a starting point and it’s easier to rip off someone’s face and wear it like a mask instead of learning how to do our own makeup. (See, I write just like Stephen King!) But originality comes with practice, and these are the worst things about it:

– Your original ideas may not seem very clever or interesting to you. Clearly, you should cut out your favorite author’s brain and stuff it in your own head.
– You may still find yourself imitating others and even plots of other stories. Just change the prom queen’s name from ‘Carrie’ to ‘Kerri’ and the dog’s name from ‘Cujo’ to ‘Blujo,’ and you’ve got your own story. What the hell does ‘copyright’ mean?
– Finding your voice takes time. You might do a lot of crying and screaming, in the meantime. Maybe your own voice is just screaming.

Being your own special brand of writer, with your own unique things to say, and your own style and flair, is not something you innately begin with, unless of course you do, and then you’re probably a demon and should be exorcised from this earth. While having a strong, singular voice and story ideas so original people know who wrote it without even looking at your name is awful special, you could also just go cut your favorite author’s hands off and use them instead (STEPHEN KING! I am your literary nemesis! Take that. I mean, you’ve never written a story about someone torturing and maiming their favorite author…).

Anyway, guys. Walk your own path.


**Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out, these posts are pure satire and simply a humorous way to vent my writing frustrations. No offense is intended to anyone. Please, become or continue being a writer. It’s awesome, I swear. It’s super…duper, awesome…heh heh.

38 comments

  1. I’d so much rather lose my mind in a pursuit of good writing than chasing a golf ball around a course or some other pipe dream of an endeavor! Gah, originality … you lift from here and you swipe from there, and all of a sudden your word quilt and idea bucket become wholly your own. Did I ever tell you about the time I carried Stephen King’s bags to his hotel room?

    Of course I haven’t.

    ———-
    Eli@CoachDaddy
    O is for One Day From Payday Spicy Skillet Chicken

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      1. I worked as a concierge in a Hilton. He walked into our hotel and stayed for a night. He kept a messenger bag stuffed with steno pads, each filled with stories.

        1. He’s a good tipper, and friendly conversationalist who loves baseball
        2. He has a sense of humor – our front-desk agent told him he should write a book about a hotel. He looked at me, and then back to her. “You’re too young to know The Shining, aren’t you?”
        3. He keeps at least six identical pens in his front jeans pocket, for, presumably, when the moment strikes him.

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  2. I had to stop by–see why ‘originality’ was a hated writing characteristic. I get it though and I actually agree. You’re right–it’s difficult to think what makes our voice unique and different will appeal to enough people to build an audience.

    Good post.

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  3. Thanks for your satire. I enjoyed it. I do get sick of all the people who are “going to write a novel one day” or who plans to “write their memoirs when .. .” they retire usually. Writing is not for sissies, and nor do you just sit down and write! It reminds me of the surgeon who made such a comment to a writer who replied, “Yes, I thought once I retire I would be a brain surgeon.” Have a great week. O is for Ongoing Opportunites as you Build a Better Blog ~ #atozchallenge

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    1. Yes, absolutely! Writing isn’t something you just get to one day, it’s something you have to squeeze into your life every day if you want it to work for you. The brain surgeon thing is a great example, I’m going to have to remember that!

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  4. Sure. Everything you say is right… if you suppose that originality has any use in storytelling, that is.

    Come on, what do we need originality for? Nobody wants it. Authors don’t want it because it’s hard to achieve in any form. Readers don’t want it because they feel uncomfortable when they don’t know what to expect. And above all publishers God-forsake-it don’t want it because they don’t know how to handle it.

    So see? You’re making a fuss for nothing U_U

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir

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  5. You forgot rabid dogs, psychotic fathers wielding axes, and demonic megalomaniacs who send a plague trying to wipe out all life on the planet… 😛

    See, this is why I write fantasy stories, I don’t give myself nightmares after a day of writing… 😛 Although I do love King’s work, I would sure hate to be his therapist. Then again, who needs therapy when you can just write all your nightmares down and send them off to a publisher, thereby sharing them with the rest of the world? See, he’s even more sadistic than we thought, his therapy is sharing the horror so that we *all* have nightmares, then he can sleep better at night! 😛 Stephen King, you are a genius!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Torturing and maiming your favorite author … I just can’t see it. Think that’s gonna end in misery Megan.
    Ultimately, everything we write has an air of originality as it is coming from our unique perspective, but it does get annoying when all we see these days are remakes and reboots

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    1. ‘Think that’s gonna end in misery.’ I see what you did there. 😉

      There’s a great quote about from Mark Twain about originality: “How lucky Adam was. He knew when he said a good thing, nobody had said it before.” We’re all recycling each other’s ideas, if only in a different way.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is an interesting one. I occasionally meet a writer that will state they will be the next JK Rowling, or their story is like a cross of Lord of the Rings and The Walking Dead (or was it Lord of the Flies and The Walking Dead?). Usually when people do the latter, they do so for non-writers to have a point of reference, but there are people who are basically taking other works and essentially doing a fan-fic.

    I have no issue with fan-fics, I think they are a good writing exercise, but when it comes to doing your own story, you need it make it your own, and not piggyback off of other writers or stories. While doing something unique is difficult, you can do something with a spin, and go with that, tell us first how your story is different, rather than how it is like something else.

    One of my first early stories (that I lost, long story) was based on a story I read. The original story inspired my story, and the basic premise was the same (soldiers sent to the future to fight a war)… but then I made it my own, with that being the only similarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit I’d like to see Lord of the Rings crossed with The Walking Dead. What would that even look like? 😀

      I think we all start out imitating someone, it’s how we learn. After all, a lot of musicians play other people’s songs before they make their own. Of course, you can’t lean on that forever unless you always want to be a cover band. We eventually have to leave the fan fiction behind and do our own thing. Although, I guess don’t tell EL James that…

      Liked by 1 person

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