You think I’d know better than to take the last post slot of the month when we’re doing an advice theme. By this point, dear reader, you’ve seen all sorts of excellent “what I wish I knew” advice posts — and my main messages to my younger self would be very similar to those already described:
- You can’t edit nothing; it doesn’t matter if your first draft is perfect so long as it exists
- Find like-minded souls (Twitter is excellent for this) because writing isn’t a one-person show
- Self-publishing is a viable option and not as scary as you think (although it does require work)
So I considered my main advice to younger reader me, and decided it would be “one format of books is not better than another — and, BTW, audiobooks are awesome so get onto that”. But I’ve blogged about the audiobook thing here too.
Given the situation, I lamented to a friend that “being original at this point is impossible”. His reply? “Sounds like a good point in itself.”
Thank you, sir. *doffs hat*
Originality and vampires
One of the things I struggled with when I first started seriously trying to write was that I wanted to write urban fantasy, and I loved vampire stories — but, by this point Twilight was a huge hit, and everyone was writing vampire stories. How on earth could I tell a new story in a market so saturated? (I actually found my plot notes for my vampire novel the other day. It’s still tempting, not gonna lie.)
In the end, I decided on fae instead, as something a little fresher, and Isla’s Inheritance was the ultimate result. But Isla’s ability to see and manipulate emotions was originally born out of the idea of a psychic vampire. Her ability to create a supernatural human servant is evocative of Dracula’s ability to create human slaves (though her cousin gets a better deal than poor Renfield). In other words, I took existing ideas, jumbled them around and came up with something new.
Obviously, the state of the market is a factor if your ultimate goal is to publish traditionally. If a publisher already has a vampire story on the books, they don’t need another one competing with the first. But that doesn’t mean that two books about vampires are fungible (I love that word; so fun to say). They aren’t interchangeable. Just because Anne Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire, that doesn’t mean that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is unoriginal. (Anything but.)
Originality and major movie franchises
I found a great example of the way that one idea can give rise to two very different, and wildly successful, stories. Here is a synopsis for your consideration:
I read that and immediately thought of Harry Potter. But it is, of course, also a description of Luke Skywalker’s journey in Star Wars.
Originality and advice
So, coming back to our post theme this month, what’s the take-home message for my younger self?
Whether you’re sitting down to write your first book or struggling to write your seventh, it is important to write something you are passionate about. At the very least, those other books on the same subject as yours don’t have the thing that your book has: your voice.
Stop looking for excuses.
Just write the book.
Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction writer whose fifth book, False Awakening, is scheduled for release at the end of August.