Two weeks ago I threw myself on the mercy of both my readers and my blog chain buddies to tell how they keep from telling the same story over and over. I asked them what their tips and tricks were for finding fresh ideas and adding new twists to your work.
And here is a summary of what they told me! (And by all means, if YOU have more advice for me, please use the comments to share them with me!)
Eric suggested freewriting.
Windsong lets the characters write the story.
Scott suggested trying different perspectives. After all, Gregory Maguire completely retold classics like The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella just by choosing an uncommon point of view.
Kate reminded me that we have to stay openminded, and included this great quote by CS Lewis: "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
Mary relies on life experiences and personal questions to guide her, and she isn't afraid to put old ideas together in new ways.
Kat likes to create unique characters with lots of quirks. Their perspectives give the story a fresh feel.
Michelle agreed, arguing that different character reactions can make a big difference in where the story goes. (Michelle also likes to write in different time periods -- zeitgeist can make all the difference!)
Christine emphasized the importance of character voice -- noting that characters should sound different from the author if they are to be authentic. Like Windsong, she believes the characters will write the story if they're just given the chance. Like Michelangelo, who believed the sculpture already lie within the stone, Christine argues that we must just let the story happen.
Elana listens to her characters, switches up her writing style, and writes with the intent to delete. The latter lets her try new things out without fear of a bad experiment ruining the story -- she can always delete it!
Annie shared this quote from Melanie Bishop: "Only you have access to the specific details of your life and memory, and the specifics about what you observe about others on any given day." In other words, Annie says, it's all about how your perspective influences your story and makes it fresh. She also reminded me that we need to practice fresh approaches, just like we practice with anything else!
Like Michelle, Sandra uses different settings -- after all, Victorian England is very different from an alternate universe! She also repeated the advice that seems to be the common thread throughout the chain -- look through the character's eyes and use their unique voices and perspectives!