25 August 2016

In Which I Maybe Break the Mold

This little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none...
So. Day six of Bella DeLallo's fabulous Writer's Camp is all about breaking the mold. We're talking about fresh ideas, new stories, and basically not being your typical writer. Be sure to check out Bella's fabulous post on her blog. She covered some really great points.

So... I maybe might just break out of the mold of the breaking out of the mold posts and go all Hannah Joy on you. *shrugs* It would be really easy to take some time to rant about my very LEAST favorite cliches that get all the screen/page time these days, but let's take on a different route.

C.S. Lewis said something that really has stuck out to me for several years now in regards to writing original fiction:

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

I love this quote for so many reasons (including but not limited to how it sounds when you say it in a lovely British accent) and it always rattles around in my head when I bemoan the fact that my stories seem to be the same as everyone's.

But here's the deal: Originality is simply not the key to a good story. It's just not. Stop thinking that if you find the ONE thread of undiscovered plotline that you will finally have the key to a great novel.

The question we as writers should be asking ourselves is not, How can I make this more unpredictable and original? it's, Why do I write? Seriously. Why do you write? Do you write because you like manipulating readers' emotions (I seriously think some authors do this)? Do you write because you relish the way you can bend characters to do your will (does this happen to anyone? Not me. My characters do whatever they want.)? Do you write because you like twisty plots and are tired of rewriting other books with what you think would be a better ending?

Or do you write because you've been gifted with a story?

See, that's me. At least.... I finally realized that some time ago. Because every single time I try to write a story to fulfill my desire for a thrill or because I just want a story that is like ________, it turns out to be all rubbish. I don't want to write a story that thrills me, I want to write a story that compels me. That inspires me. That turns my life on its head. That brings me to my knees in repentance--dude, why aren't there more stories like that? That would be breaking the mold.

C.S. Lewis calls it telling the truth. And that is what we all must do. Tell the truth--as best and beautifully as you know how to. Tell the story that thumps in your veins, that pounces on your own fears and forces you to face them, that takes the things that you love most and brings painful growth in them that makes them more beautiful in the end. Tell the story that chases your doubt into a corner and finds it empty, that sees if your passions stand the test of fire, that grasps your deepest convictions and makes them stand firm against adversity. Tell the story of all the laughter lines that paint your face, of all the tears that no one could really understand, not even you, of the fierceness of the way you cheer for that hockey team (and why would you even do that?), of the taste of that casserole (you know, like autumn and schooltime and frazzled mom and full table). We've all been given a story, one that is told every single day of our lives in a new and glorious way--the Gospel as we behold it. Tell that story. And don't care twopence about originality. That is when you'll finally break the mold.

For some epic mold-breakers (or should we call them truth-tellers?) when it comes to writing, see: N.D. Wilson, Andrew Peterson, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Trenton Lee Stewart, Jonathon Rogers, Jennifer Trafton, S.D. Smith, Michael D. O'Brien, Elizabeth Goudge, and probably a lot more that I can't think of at the moment.


  1. ...Wow. That quote. I've never heard it before, but it's officially a new favorite. Loved this so much, oh my gosh.

    1. Oh man, I know right??? So good. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the comment, Grace Anne!

  2. THISSSSSSSS. There is so much yes in this post. XD

  3. Hannnaaahhhhhhhhhh. I like how you word things. I like it a lot! Like, how you described why you write (the second to last paragraph)? Absolutely lovely, and, even though I don't relate to the writing part, the way you talked about is relatable to whatever people are passionate about. I am passionate about art, and reading that is just exhilarating.

    1. Yayyyyy! I'm so glad you liked it and that you agree and all that good stuff. God has given me an incredibly passionate (and occasionally very outspoken) heart, and so a lot of times I find I disagree with lots of people, which is really very discouraging to me (another of my personality traits....they don't go along together well). So finding people who agree with me is hugely a blessing. So thanks for taking the time to comment! :-)

  4. "Why do I write?" Yes, this is SUCH an important question to ask ourselves-- I simply despise people who simply do it because they want some sort of monetary stipend thing, or something like, "Because this is the fastest way for me to get rich and famous." Like, no. NO. How dare they proclaim themselves to be artists if they're merely in just for things like fame and other stuff. UGHHHH.

    Anyways, moving on past that rant: truth is so important, in art, in general. One of the things that people have taught me during acting is the definition of acting itself: "Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances," and it applies to all art forms: yes, we may not be flying on a dragon or stumble across a cake that can change into whatever flavor you end up craving at that time, but the characters have to be real, and be identifiable with ourselves, in their personality, their pursuits, and their journeys, both internally and externally.

    And it's pretty cool that when we blog, we're pretty much the characters. How's that for a story? xD

    xoxo Morning

    1. HA. I don't know if writing will EVER be the fastest way to make money. Unless there are actually people who can write a decent novel (a publishable one) in a short amount of time. I think I'm just like I will never make money with writing so maybe I'm just pessimistic for everyone XDDD.

      Oooh, I like that piece of advice about acting. I'm not an actor, but that obviously factors into all forms of art, like you said. Ugh, so good.

      Thanks for the thoughts, Morning!

  5. THIS IS SO AMAZING :) I think about why I write from time to time and you put some of my thoughts so well. This was really inspirational for me and I'm honestly gonna keep coming back to read this. Thanks for sharing this xx

  6. Thanks Arushee! That means so much. I'm so glad you enjoyed! <3

  7. .....annnnnd....I now have a new favourite quote. Another favourite quote. Merci beaucoup!!

    And that is...incredibly true. Write what is true. Sort of like 'stop writing fairytales', but still.

    And if you write was is true, it doesn't matter if it's not original - there's something about truth that will cary on regardless, that will attract attention.

    I don't know - I want to go write something based off of this post but that would be like stealing or something and....

    yeah, alright, I'm rambling.

    But thank you so much!! This is....a treasure. Spasibo.

    1. I KNOW. SO GOOD. *supplies you with all the good quotes* ;-)

      Oh but fairy tales are more than true--as Neil Gaiman says (another of my ABSOLUTE favorite quotes ever), "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."(He's paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton) So there's that to add to the mix.

      And pfft, I don't care if you steal my ideas. That's the reason I post them--so that people will be inspired and stuff. Because that makes me happy. :-)

      Thanks for all the rambly comments! Loved 'em all.

    2. Tolkien is the master I turn to in regard for writing - C.S. Lewis is the master I turn to in regards for life. *grins* They're both so quotable though!!

      Yes - I mean 'fairytales' such as...everyone lives happily ever after, everything's predictable, the good are completely good and the bad are completely bad, everything's black and white, and.... Those type of fairytales. Narnia is a fairytale, and that is a good one. It's....complicated? I guess I don't like the stories that say the dragon never exists and so defeating it is easy for everyone - if that makes sense? (I'M NOT GOOD AT EXPLAINING!!)

      I LOVE that quote too. and Chesterton's stories - he is another terrific auther I forgot....


      *smiles* I'm thrilled you did. I LOVED reading your posts.

      But not the dust mote story.

    3. In rereading this - I see your note concerning controlling characters....

      WHO HAS OBEDIENT CHARACTERS??? How did you get the luck of the draw to get that????

    4. Ugh, I know. I love both of them so very much.

      Yeah, totally makes sense. The fact of the matter is that as writers, we are forced to portray darkness--why? so that light may shine all the brighter. Jesus came into a broken world and the way He brought redemption was through terrible, terrible pain (and the best happy ending ever, too). I'm not against happy endings myself (in fact, I really, really like them. I don't like the new trend of leaving things in the sludge). But happy endings must be hard earned. They cost something. It takes growth and growth hurts. It takes, sometimes, death (or, always, death of different things, whether that's old character traits or old lives or whatever). It's just like our lives. It takes a lot of struggle. But ultimately, it's worth it. I fervently believe in happy endings not because I have had one (because my story's not ended yet) but because I know that there is one, because God has promised that.

      That was a long rant, sorry. I get so passionate about like everything. XD

      AND YEAH. OBEDIENT CHARACTERS. DO THEY EVEN EXIST??? I'm beginning to wonder if anyone has them. Though sometimes you read a book and a character does something SO out of character and you're just like whaaa???? y u do that, author???? Nah, I'll be writing and have the perfect thing planned out, like oh this character and this character are perfect for each other! And then all of the sudden this character falls for that character and I'm like whut. Okay. Roll with it. XD

    5. Oh, really? You like happy endings? You do? You don't like leaving them in the aforementioned sludge? Really? You truly think that?

      .....DUST. MOTE. STORY. *grins*

      AND YES. EXACTLY. EXACTLY!!! Everything isn't a rose garden. The diamonds aren't going to shine nearly as brightly if there isn't coal first.


      ...I have literally had characters commit suicide (RUN AWAY YOU IDIOT YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO WIN THIS FIGHT), ressurect themselves (oh that's nice, just here for tea then? YOU HAD YOUR HEAD CHOPPED OFF TWO BOOKS AGO!!), and elope (WHEN DID YOU GET MARRIED?? YOU WERE ALMOST SIBLINGS!!!!), and just generally take over their storylines......

      .....all people that say they have perfectly obeidient characters NEVER WRITES.


      Yass, yass, totally agree.

      XDDDDDDDDDDDDDD Oh yes, so true. Or just out of the blue something pops out of their mouth...just an offhanded comment...THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

    7. *grins* GOOD.

      YESSS!! And you're sitting there staring at the words you just wrote like....where did that even COME from????

      ...suddenly supernatural possession isn't that far out of possibility - because HOW ELSE DOES ONE EXPLAIN CHARACTERS *YOU* INVENTED NOT DOING WHAT YOU WANT??

    8. XD I think that ultimately it's our imitation (since we are created in the image of a Creator God) of God's creative power. Which is ridiculously cool when you think about it. :-D

  8. Thank you for permission! I'll post it tonight.

  9. I tagged you ;) Mic's Room (http://lovelypinkduckshome.blogspot.com/)

    1. Thank you! I'll take a look. It might take me a while to get to it!


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