Ten Tenets of Novel Writing: Originality
In every novel there are multiple aspects that the writer must get right and, with those, plenty of places to make mistakes. In this series I’m going to be looking at these different parts. This essay is going to be looking at my ninth tenet: originality.
Originality is an interesting topic for discussion when it comes to novel writing, primarily because there are no original stories anymore, really. There are only so many stories, at their core, that can be told and we’ve pretty much told all of them at this point. American Gods is a story about gods fighting for control which has been a part of theological mythology since the dawn of time. Interview With a Vampire is a vampire story similar to Dracula. Hunger Games is a woman fighting to save her family, Murder on the Orient Express a murder mystery and the Shining is a man descending into madness. None of these are particularly original.
That’s not to say that they’re not good books or that they lack originality. Our jobs as writers is to do something original with the way that we tell these stories. Interview With a Vampire’s story is told in an interesting way that’s different than the norm and those that came before it. Hunger Games uses a Battle Royale style arena to tell the classic story of fighting to protect your family.
So, when I, or others, say that your story needs to be original, what they should be saying is that you need to find a way to tell your story in a new, original and exciting way and there are limitless ways to do this. We’ll never run out of ways to tell the same story in different ways. You just need to find yours.
© 2020 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.