The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass, I was encouraged.
According to Donald Maass, there really is nothing new under the sun when it comes to basic plots and storylines. Are you writing a mystery? Well, join the crowd who starts off with a murder and ends up with a solved case. Are you writing a love story? Join all the others who write about boy meets girl-boy cannot have girl-but love conquers all and he gets the girl. There is nothing original in basic plot lines. Been there, done that.
So what makes a story unique? YOU!!!!!
Only you have the experiences that you have had. Only you can bring a unique perspective to a basic storyline. The trick is being brave enough to open yourself up to what is real and honest in your life and using that in your writing. We all have experiences that have shaped our world view and how we deal with life. If we can be honest enough bring it into our writing, our stories will come alive.
Donald Maass says, "Finding the power buried in your novel...is about finding you: your eyes, experience, understanding, and compassion. Ignore yourself and your story will be weak. Embrace the importance of what you have to share with the rest of us and you have the beginning of what makes novels great."
Maass goes on to lead you into finding that unique perspective. Take common experiences and bring out the compassion and understanding to those shared experiences. For example, many people hate their day jobs and you can bring your perspective to that experience to lead the reader to relate and "get" your take on it.
Of course, then we have uncommon experiences. Where were you during 9/11? It is the same event, but everyone experienced that day in a different place and a different way. Some had family die that day. Some slept through it. Some came out of the building alive. Some watched it unfold from their office. Each person brings a different way of looking at the same thing. Use that in your writing!
I believe it is Francine Rivers who says she takes her life experiences...what she is dealing with...what the Lord is teaching her at the time...to write her stories. And oh, what powerful books she writes! They speak to the heart the reader because she brings her heart into them.
What do you want readers to come away with when they read your book? What truth do you want people to know? What theme needs to be shouted to the world? Be honest. Be real. Let your experiences, your take on life, and your heart come through your writing.
I will leave you with a quote from Donald Maass's The Fire In Fiction:
"Having something to say, or something you wish us to experience, is what gives your novel its power. Identify it. Make it loud. Do not be afraid of what's burning in your heart. When it comes through on the page, you will be a true storyteller."
QUESTION: Is it easy for you to open up and be honest in your writing with your unique experiences?