Try as you might to push forward on your new book manuscript, you instead find yourself hopelessly stuck in a revolving cycle of plot clichés. All attempts to create a compelling and original story idea have thus far failed, putting you further and further behind on the book-writing schedule. What to do?
When you want to learn how to write an original story, it helps to start off with the right mindset. An original story idea isn’t going to materialize by following a stale formula. Instead, think of storytelling as a process that is akin to a creative literary evolution. Read on to learn how to come up with an original story idea while avoiding cringe-worthy plot clichés.
How To Write an Original Story
You know you have a fantastic book inside you just itching to be written, but you can’t seem to shake it free from the tired old tropes that have been shamelessly overused. Every idea you come up with for your story feels tired and redundant. So, how do you arrive at a story idea that is fresh and original?
Consider these tips:
- Look for inspiration. The best writers happen to be voracious readers. They have exposed their minds to a plethora of literary forms, genres, and styles from which to draw inspiration. Note that seeking inspiration has nothing to do with plagiarism, but with sparking new ideas of your own.
- Ignite your imagination. Writing is an art form, and as such it relies heavily on using your imagination. In our minds is an unlimited realm of ideas, just swirling around for the taking. Just start somewhere –– write about the setting, the main character, or the central conflict. As your imagination fleshes out the details of that one little segment of the story, an original story plot idea will surely emerge.
- Go for unique instead of original. When you think about it, writers over the millennia have pretty much covered every imaginable topic. So, worry less about coming up with a totally original story idea, and focus instead on applying a unique slant to an existing story idea. Integrate your own life experience or worldview to a not-so-original story idea for a unique twist that no one will recognize.
- Blend a couple of ideas. There is no rule against getting a little creative with the birthing of your plot idea. Consider using a mashup of ideas to arrive at your own bespoke story idea. You could even combine two clichés and create a hybrid that is very original, indeed.
- Try story prompts. If you draw a total blank, why not check out some story prompt ideas online. These are short prompts that end with an ellipsis (…), which is your signal to begin free writing. Open your mind, let creativity flow, and you might just find yourself with a really interesting story idea.
- Collaborate. The input of other writers can be very valuable when starting a new book project. Join a writers group, where participants can spitball ideas for each other’s projects. Someone may make a suggestion that spurs a light bulb moment, and your original story idea is born.
Writing Clichés That Make for Unoriginal Stories
One of the best ways to avoid using unoriginal story ideas is by sidestepping tired formulaic plot clichés. These are story ideas that were once fresh and original, but have been so overused readers can immediately spot them. This can ruin the reader’s experience, as the plot and resolution are easily predicted at the outset.
Here are some writing clichés to avoid:
- The reluctant hero. While everybody loves a hero, stories that showcase a character as the “chosen one” run the risk of being highly predictable.
- The love triangle. While the love triangle cliché, prominently featured in romance novels, might inspire curiosity and speculation in the reader, most will find these overused storylines ultimately unsatisfying.
- The dream. The dream revelation. That point in the story when the reader discovers the entire story has been a figment of the main character’s dream, has seen its day.
Now that you know how to write an original story, it’s time to get to work.
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