Today some words of wisdom courtesy of SCBWI Dallas Agent/Editor Day. This was a bit of insight from Editor Molly O’Neill. Although I’m sure she put it much more eloquently, Molly touched on the fact that it’s not about finding a unique idea, it’s about finding an new perspective for an old one.
People have been telling stories for thousands of years. Let’s face it, most the good ideas have been snatched up, re-hauled, and told all over again. But that’s ok. See, there’s a reason those stories have been told and re-told throughout countless generations. It’s because they’re good.
If you’re telling some bizarre story about giant squids on vacation in Denver and you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, I’m super original. Go me!” Take a second. Think. Now, why has that story never been written? Oh right, because there about three people that will want to buy that book–and that’s being generous! Publishers don’t really want to invest in a book that has an audience of three. That’s not good business.
So the trick isn’t coming up with something that’s never-ever been done. The trick is finding a new perspective. A new spin.
The trick is to write a zombie book in a literary voice or a Holocaust book narrated by Death or a social lottery book couched in reality TV.
Isn’t that what being an artist is all about?
A good book is relatable to lots of people, but forces people to look at the world in a new way or to see an old standby from a different standpoint.
Now, for a visual aid that I thought was on point. This is from photographer Kerry Skarbakka who was recently featured on the Today Show. This guy takes pictures of himself falling. His photographs have touched a nerve with folks because why? You guessed it. Relatable feeling: Falling/Helplessness/Discomfort. Viewed from: A new angle.