Lots of people here have asked something along the lines of "how original does my story have to be," to which the response is most often some variant of "it's not what you write, but how you write it." It's that latter statement I want to take a deeper look at for a moment. Does "how you write it" just mean that you get to invent the characters, their growths, and their conflicts? Or that the world becomes your invention? I see a lot of samples in the writing workshop that certainly achieve this. Everyone has their own little spins that, arguably, make their plot lines a little bit unique. But I find myself saying, so what? Too often I find myself reading the same cliched lines, same common dialogue, and prototypical characters that would fit whatever specific genre the story is trying to fit. It's sort of like one of those video game programs where you get to design your game, or, for old people, legos, where you get to build your own architecture.In the former example, the code and graphics are already there. In the latter case, Legos has taken the liberty of making the blocks for you. You just get to choose which pieces to use and in what combination. One could argue that this, at least in part, distinguishes literary fiction from genre fiction, but, I don't think so. I've seen cliched stories in all genres, including, literary, and brilliant stories in all genres, including literary. I've read a small number of novels that have left holes in my heart, and the rest, just blend into the background. Back to us aspiring writers, whenever someone says something like, "My WIP takes places in X, and my MC, Y, can be described by A, B, and C, and will go through conflicts, g, f, and h, to defeat the antagonist, M," and then I read a sample of their story, and indeed, all that I am getting out of it is learning about X, Y, A, B, C ,g,f,h and M, I find myself wondering, what's the point? Going back to the initial, phrase, "it's not what you write, but how you write it," I would argue that a lot of us (I hope not myself but how can I really know?) are in actuality still attempting to be novel in the "what", by adding in our own variations of x's and y's, while not really doing anything that special with the "how." I have more to say, but at this point I'd like to see other's thoughts. Apologies if this is unclear.