Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How to Stand Out From the Crowd


We all know that one of the most significant challenges any writer faces is trying to be original. There are so many books out there, so many stories, and we can’t help but be influenced and inspired by the things we have read ourselves.
Telling a genuinely original story is difficult, some might even say it can't be done. However, to make our stories successful, they do need to say something that hasn’t been said before. They need to have something about them that makes them stand out from the crowd.
So how can you make sure that you aren’t just writing the same old stories, ones that will get lost amongst the sea of the work that is already out there? Here are some tips and methods to try to keep your work fresh and original.
Use your intuition
There is nothing quite as powerful as your intuition to help you make the right decisions about your work. If you are following your gut and your instincts, you’ll know when you are being lazy or not pushing yourself creatively. Always listen to that and you’ll rarely go wrong and keep your work as unique and original as possible.
Don’t follow the rules
With every story, with every genre, there are sets of ‘rules’ that writers are supposed to follow. Be a daredevil and break a few of them - or at least push their boundaries, their limits. Do this cleverly, go too far off-piste, and you might confuse and upset your reader, but remember, rules were made to be broken after all.
Be honest
The more brutally honest you are with your writing, the more authentic it will be. Try keeping a journal to make notes of the things you have done, the conversations you have overheard, the things you have observed and use these in your writing. No one sees the world through the same pair of eyes as you do. Use your unique perspective to make your book different.
Ask yourself questions
Throughout the writing process keep asking yourself questions. Don’t let yourself rest or be average. Always push yourself. Ask yourself how you can make that scene, that conversation, that setting more interesting, more exciting, more attention-grabbing. Keep asking yourself how your characters could be more unique, more unusual, more relatable. Do this before you start writing, as you are writing and after you’ve finished too.
Be influenced, be inspired, don't copy
We are never going to get away from our influences entirely, and it is okay to ‘borrow’ some ideas from other writers. However, there is a very distinct line between letting what you’ve read and loved kickstart your writing and just stealing ideas from other writers. The former is OK, the latter is a massive no-no, and your readers will call you out on it every time.
Trying to make your work stand out can be tricky, and scary. It might involve pushing yourself, even going to places that make you a little uncomfortable and taking risks that may or may not pay off.
However if you aren’t willing to do these things your book may never get its chance to shine, so be bold, be daring and do everything you can to make your book stand out from the crowd, if you do the rewards could be incredible!

This must have been what was on my mind when I was hesitant about writing a memoir about depression and being on Prozac when I was inspired to write about this after reading the best-known account of the iconic medication. I felt I was stealing the author's thunder. But I was soon convinced that everyone has a different story to tell. That more than one survivor of the Titanic, for instance, should be allowed to tell their story, not just one such person. As it says above use your unique perspective to make your book different, something I was told in the beginning I gradually realized that I wouldn't be copying others, that I was just being inspired by them. Depression is a universal problem and everyone has a story to tell, even if some of what they went through was similar, if not identical to, that which others faced. 

I have been working on the diary novel, but I'm not sure what really inspired me in that instance. I've read The Dork Diaries series, but have yet to read the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books. But my main character is starting to sound like ones in these books. I sent one of my mom's friends an email attachment of my story and she described the main character as being extremely cynical and unsympathetic, and "always seeing the worst in every situation." But that's just one person's take. My mom doesn't agree from what she'd read so far. I now need others to read this one to see what they think. 

Nearly every story has been told more that once, but your voice is what makes it stand out. This was a lesson I learned when I began deciding if I wanted to begin the memoir.


  1. Useful suggestions--and the reverse also works. Do the opposite for "How NOT to stand out in a crowd".

  2. I completely agree, Jamie. Everyone has a different story to tell.

  3. No arguments. We do indeed all have our own stories. And different ways to tell them.

  4. Hope your day is productive and your evening pleasant.

  5. Yes, definitely get a couple others opinions on your character before you start making major changes. Sometimes it comes down to even how a reader shapes their view of a character from a few sentences early on that influences how they perceive them for the rest of the book. Maybe try to pinpoint where that reader's view of the character went wrong.

    It's always amazing to me when working from a prompt with a group of writers, how many different directions a story can go and how different each of us writes in style and voice.