Some sit up in a proper position with their fingers curled just so, like a pianist, to keep from getting a crippling case of carpal tunnel syndrome. Some authors snuggle under their covers, or sit on the porch and let the breeze blow across their face while they create. I like to recline, feet up, head back, with a cup of coffee nearby. I frequently act out my scenes, bringing myself to tears as I feel my characters emotions. And yet with all of these preferences, I’ve wondered what makes my words come out different than the next prolifically fascinating author. How is it, exactly, that my “voice” is unique?
After thinking about this, I’ve come up with a list of reasons why every author has a distinct voice and therefore has a shot at becoming the next best thing because of their uniqueness. As we all know, literature is extremely subjective and trends come and go. If you’re not a vampombie loving artist, you could be writing the next trend at this very moment.
Here are a few reasons why you could be the next literary lottery winner.
- You Have a Unique History! No one has ever lived your life. Your childhood and adolescence and college years have twisted together a very distinct experiential DNA. You cannot avoid the fact that you’ve traveled a road that no one else has dared to explore. It is this voyage that will carry over into your writing, making you different, fresher than the same old authors that the world reads over and over. Use your story to your advantage. Throw in your memories, your embarrassing moments and your failures into your characters lives and bring the literary world something new.
- People Bore Easily. As much as I love Lemony Snicket and J.K. Rowling, there will come a time when I get bored with a series and maybe the author as well. When that time comes, I’ll move on to someone new. I might start reading another well-known author, or a not so well known literary artist waiting in the shadows. It’s a great feeling to know that someone picks up your book by accident and falls in love with your writing. After all, accidents do happen!
- Literature is Subjective. Like I said earlier, one man’s trash is another man’s favorite book. With all the “I’m sorry to inform you” agent form letters I’ve received, you’d think no one would get past the first line of my work, but that’s not the case. My previous suspense thriller, REUNION, hit the #1 spot in Amazon's ghost category. How is that possible when so many agents passed on it? Easy. Literature is subjective. Sometimes agents and publishers miss the next trend, or simply enjoy other genres. And sometimes, the publishing world loses touch with what readers want.
- Being Different is Good. Do you remember the kid in school with the weird haircut? You know, the one who everyone teased but deep inside you wished you could grow a pair as big as his, and do something original. Then at your ten-year reunion you discovered he’s driving a Mercedes and living on the beach in Sarasota because he invented a new design to a widget that hadn’t changed in fifty years. Originality pays. Being different is good! Unfortunately, we live in a world that breeds sameness. Our schools and social systems line us up and pin on the qualities that appeal to their needs at the time. They want citizens that stand at attention, say yes to their policies and shut up about it. In my opinion, the best thing any writer can do is break free from unoriginality, and forge a uniquely crooked trail.
The truth is, one-hit wonders come and go. Many great books have risen to the top and then sank to the bottom of the literary ocean, rusting and watching the crabs walk over their pages. If you create something new, that will not be the end of your story. You have to continue writing, creating a list of books for readers to choose from, diversifying your portfolio with as much savvy as a Wallstreet-wiz kid. Then, as soon as you have a captive audience, remake yourself. Of course, if you’re the next J.K. Rowling, don’t stop after The Sorcerer’s Stone! Learn to recognize a good thing. Just know that after you make your millions from your upcoming series, we, as in the readers of the world, will start to yawn and begin looking for the next good book that’ll scratch our story-loving itch.
~ Jeff Bennington is the author of TWISTED VENGEANCE, CREEPY and the founder of The Kindle Book Review.
|5 ~ Stars|
|4.4 ~ Stars|
|5 ~ Stars|
This post was an original guest post at The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog in May 2011.