Trapped inside the Stereotypical Box

IMG_20190318_111339_159.JPGThere is not a plot out there that hasn’t been used yet. We have decades, centuries even, of writers. But it’s how you take your plot and twist it, that makes it unique and YOURS. And when you see something that another writer does that works… do everything you can to AVOID IT.

Those big authors are now in what I call the Stereotypical Box. (My mom has just brought it to my attention that the name itself is a stereotype… oops.)

What they did might have been unique at one point in time, but now it’s already used! So try something new. We already know their style and story type works, so how can yours work and inspire? How can your ideas make them think differently about something, or stimulate a person’s mind to make them excited to turn the page and read on?

Knowing that a style works is great. But if we all write in that style and use the same types of stories, all books would wind up being the same. And that is not what we want.

Again, there isn’t a story type, plot, or headline that hasn’t already been used. But it’s all about how we write it, and what we do with our story.

Make your characters unique. Your story goal different. Your protagonist’s drive coming from a different angle. Twist your ending.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to twist a story.

It was for an entrance into a story group. I had to finish a battle. It was supposed to end with one of us being dead. But that’s not what I wanted to do.

They told me to choose a character. I chose Annabeth Chase, who is one of my favorite book characters ever. (If you don’t know who she is, she is one of the main characters in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I recommend it.) They gave me a starting point, gave a brief description of my opponent (created by them), and told me to finish the fight scene. If the guy who read it thought my work was good enough for me to be a part of their group, I was in. I thought it was going to be read by one person, and one person only. I already knew this guy, so I had no worries. But, NOPE! It wasn’t just him. There were a team of administrators reading my story. But I didn’t know that at the time. I was just writing the way I usually would, and loving the way this story was headed. The battle had my heart pounding and I was ready to actually fight someone.

But I felt like I had no ending. I couldn’t kill my opponent, because I felt like I was missing something. Then it clicked.

I realized that with a couple of unique twists, this was no longer just a short fanfiction battle I was writing. This was in my ballpark now. I could do what I wanted with this story. I was Annabeth Chase. I could fight the way she fights, use her memories to shape my ending, and use logic to not kill my opponent but ultimately defeat him. I could do this, even if it would mean my death in an average adventure.

I changed the story. I twisted, flipped, and broke out of the Stereotypical Box. And because I did, I got into that group unanimously after the admins read it.

You can do this too. Break out of that Stereotypical Box, don’t be confined to what ‘works’. Write creatively.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

-Lorryn Holt

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