One thing I've learned by tweeting and supporting other authors, is that not all books are created equal.
Of course we all have our unique writing style, idiosyncrasies, and personality styles that make each of our books different. But sometimes I think novels suffer from un-originality. Reading is a great way to improve your prose, no doubt about it, but some would argue that reading too much of one genre or one author can taint one's ability to be truly innovative.
They, whoever they are, also say that there are no unique plot lines. They say it is nearly impossible to create a new plot structure, one that is unlike any other. And they, who ever they may be, are probably right. So the question is, how can you write a novel that is fresh and different or a new take on an old plot?
Answer: Write about you. No one else has ever lived your life. No one has ever been you. God made you with a secret recipe, some with sugar and some with extra hot peppers. So start there; in your own back yard, with your garden variety experiences.
That's what I did.
I wrote a fictional short story that's based on an actual experience I had while camping with my family and it turned out to be quite a unique story, with dramatic twists, lots of action, and crazy characters that spring to life. The story's called The Rumblin'. It's free today so I hope you get a copy and read it. It'll only take you about 25 minutes, but they'll be some of the best minutes of your life, I gaw-ran-tee it or your money back!
Here's the low down. And believe me, these were actual events…
In the summer of 2010, I took my family on a camping trip. We set up camp, started a fire, roasted hot dogs, etc. We knew there was a 30% chance of thunder showers but went anyway. Well, guess what? Within the first 3 to 4 hours of our weekend excursion, the sky turned dark, the wind picked up and a huge wall of black clouds came rushing at the campground like a bull in a clown convention. The camp owner buzzed through the campground on a golf cart, urging all of us to come to the cellar of the camp store before the storm hit. We did.
If you're an outdoors person, you'll know that there are a variety of characters that enjoy camping. Well, with all of us packed in there, pets and all, the writer in me began to imagine what it would be like if we were trapped. What if we couldn't get out? What if a tree fell on the building and it caught on fire? What if one of the campers was a killer? Sounds crazy I know. But that's how my writerly mind works; I can't apologize for that.
Anyway, while huddled up with my family, I started characterizing the other detainees and the kids and I had a few frights and laughs. Before long, the rain dried up and we were set free. When we returned home, I wrote the short story of The Rumblin'. I hope you enjoy it. It's short, but fast paced, filled with a great cast, and very suspenseful.
The lesson? You don't have to be like everyone else. Live your own life and take those "Twighlight Zone moments" and turn them into fiction. You can't get any more creative than that.
Incidentally, The Rumblin' (17 reviews/4.4 stars) is FREE today and so is Reunion, my supernatural thriller about a group of kids who survive a school shooting and later reunite, PTSD and all, in their old school… and it's haunted! Enjoy!
Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe. And follow me by email, I love it when you folks join my team.