Friday Rambles: Unique, or Just Overused?

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I know this is a highly debated topic — unique ideas. Are there really any out there? What qualifies as a “unique” idea? A few weeks ago, the Top Ten Tuesday was the Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read, and it got me thinking about story ideas. As a writer I like to think that my ideas are unique, fresh, new and different . . . but in reality, are they? Are there really any ideas that haven’t been used before? I honestly don’t think that there are.

Harry Potter and Doctor Who? Yeah, that's pretty unique! (;

Harry Potter and Doctor Who mash-up? Yeah, that’s pretty unique! (;

However, in saying that, every writer is different. We have all grown up with different experiences, different likes and dislikes, and our exposure to the way that we see the world effects the way we write things. So in a way, no two ideas are the same, not when you think about it in that respect. Each writer has their own unique ideas on characters, settings, and prose, making their writing unique.

Let’s take Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone as an example. It’s no secret that I love love love love this book — Taylor is one of my favourite writers. She takes the clichéd, overdone idea over demons-versus-angels, and spins it into a unique idea that’s fresh and new, something readers haven’t seen before.

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So how, as writers, are we supposed to make our novels unique? Yep, that’s a question that’s bugged me for awhile now . . . and I don’t really have a solid answer.  Essentially — you should write what you want to write. But the way that the publishing industry is that ideas that are been-there-done-that (eg, vampires) aren’t going to sell well because they have been done to death.

My advice is this: Take an idea, and twist it into something that hasn’t been seen before. This was why Daughter of Smoke and Bone worked so well for me; not only did the author put a unique spin on an old idea, but she had a beautiful writing style, and world-building that blew my mind. That’s the essence of it, I think: I believe that there aren’t really any unique ideas out there, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the way that the writer has written the story.

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What do you think a unique novel is out there?  Is there such thing? Let me know in the comments below!

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5 thoughts on “Friday Rambles: Unique, or Just Overused?

  1. I think there are plenty of unique books out there…I think there’s a lot of bad rip-offs too, though. x) Which really sucks! But I haven’t read Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, because I borrowed out Shadow & Bone from the library aaaaand…I thought they were the same. >_< So I STILL must get onto that! I love how unique Splintered and Unhinged by A.G. Howard are.

    • Ahh, you should give DoSaB a go some time! Ahah, yeah they kind of have really similar titles, don’t they? I enjoyed reading Splintered, actually (I love Alice in Wonderland, so yeah) but I haven’t gotten around to Unhinged yet.

  2. I really have to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Everyone keeps TALKING about it and I feel like I’m missing OUT. I also love unique ideas, but also unique takes on old ideas – that’s one of the big attractions of retellings for me. Great post :)

  3. I once had a professor tell me that every story starts with someone coming to town. And it applies to almost every story I can think of! Really, there’s nothing new under the sun.

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