How do you keep from telling the same story over and over? What are your tips and tricks for finding fresh ideas and adding new twists to your work?
In a nutshell: Unique characters.
Writers need to become experts at playing devil's advocate; it helps us step outside our comfort zone and create believable heroes and villains. It helps us establish fresh, believable characters.
I believe characters with unique personalities are the key to making each story fresh.
Awhile back, I read Michael Snyder's debut novel "My Name is Russell Fink." It was hilarious.
Talk about character quirks!
The main character was plagued with survivor's guilt, and he was a hypochondriac who thought he was dying of cancer. One of his friends was a scientist who was always cold and wore oven mitts on his hands. The MC's girlfriend was a loon. His dog had bladder control problems.
If Snyder had simply given his characters these quirks, they probably would have been a nuisance for readers to trudge through. Each of these flaws, however, played an integral part in how the story moved, and they made the story unique.
I rarely map a story out before I start writing. I have a rough idea of my opening, two plot points and climax, but I usually let the characters and their flaws take it from there.
When you strip Long Road down to its basic theme, it's nothing special. But Heather's character flaws -- especially her refusal to believe in something beyond life as we know it -- make the story different from other stories out there.
Now, head over the Christine's place and read her response.