So you’ve decided to write a story. Yay! Congratulations. First step complete.
Now. While you can write about shiny vampires and zombie apocalypses all you want to, just so you know, I won’t read them. Why? You need to come up with something original to make your story stand out.
Kill the clichés.
But say you really wanted to write about a wizard school. Okay. Fine. But you sure as heck had better come up with something that’ll make your readers think, Oh. Okay. So this isn’t a complete cop-out of Harry Potter.
And how the heck do you do that?
As writers, we need to be creative. Sorry, but there is no way to get around it. If you want to write about Harry Po—about wizards, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
But don’t worry! Remember: A story isn’t comprised of a single idea. You need a setting and characters. Subplots. Themes. You can do this. We can do this.
Continuing with the wizard idea, let’s make a new story that’s completely different than Harry Potter. But it will still center on a boy who goes to wizard school.
- Setting: Underwater. Duh. That’s why we non-magical folk haven’t found the wizards yet: They’re buried under the ocean. Of course, this’ll open up a few more opportunities, too. How do the wizards get oxygen? Do they have gills? Do they even need oxygen?
- Protagonist: Harry Potter’s noble. He’s the all-around hero. So let’s do the opposite of that: In our wizard story, our protagonist will be the antagonist. Mean, creepy, clumsy, and loaded with sarcastic comments. He’ll be tall. Gauntly. But he can’t have black hair. Nope. How about…blonde? And icy blue eyes. And crooked teeth.
- Subplots: Wait. We didn’t actually discuss our main plot here. Okay. So, say our protagonist wants to exploit the school and show it to all of the non-magical folk. That’s not a very creative idea, but whatever. We’ve got subplots on our side. Why? Because we need a “why.” Why would our protagonist want to show the school to the non-magical folk? What’s his back story? And who tries to stop him? How does this person (or group of people) find out about our protagonist’s plans?
- Themes: What sort of a message do we want to send to our readers? What should they learn after reading this story? Maybe that change is good. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the non-magical people found out about the wizards. Or, perhaps if our protagonist fails in his mission, that failure isn’t always the end of the world.
Okay. So we have our story outline complete (though it is rather bare). Does this sound anything like Harry Potter? No. Not at all. (And, by the way, if anyone wants to write this story, feel free. Just make sure that you give me a link to the finished copy—because I would love to read it.)
What we have here is a three-dimensional story idea that actually might turn out somewhat okay if someone decided to write it. And the best part? It’s original.
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