Daily Archives: August 26, 2010

Another Writing Exercise

One of the questions I am always asked by writing students goes something like this: “I get these ideas. And then I read books that are sort of like my ideas. And so I stop writing. What can I do about that?”

The truth is that lots of ideas are similar. When THE CHOSEN ONE came out, I learned of several other books that were out, coming out, or being written–all about polygamy. In fact, a famous author just mentioned to me that he is writing a book on polygamy.

And then there’s that one English teacher thing that says there are only seven original stories. Or five, if you talk to some people. Or three, if you talk to others. Anyway, you get my drift (Hmmm. What does that mean, you get my drift?). There is no new idea out there. There might be a twist, but the themes remain the same.

So what sets your book apart from all the others? What makes a book original? What makes your book YOURS?

I think it’s voice. Your voice can be the truth of the story. Your voice can win you awards. It sets you apart. It makes you different.

Today’s exercise is simple. Write a few pages of a story starting with the first line of a book I’m working on, and the first line of a book that Ann Dee is working on. We won’t tell you a thing about the stories because that doesn’t matter.  This is a study of voice. Let’s see what you can come up with and how you make it your own.

Here’s one line:

After it happened, no one in school would talk to me.

And here is the other opening line:

One time.

So have at it. Keep the lines as they are and work your magic. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

By the way–when you participate, you run the risk of 1. maybe coming up with something cool that you can use in your own WIP and 2. winning something.

So there.


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