The problem with coming up with a new story is that pretty much every plot has already been done many times over. The familiarity of the plot doesn’t deter a storyteller so much as does the fear that what he or she writes just won’t be all that fresh or original. I mean, how often has Cinderella been done?
So often that the title doesn’t even need quotation marks or italicization.
For instance, I sent a proposal to a potential client regarding writing his father’s memoir. The man’s father led an exciting and unusual life. From what little the potential client told me, it will make a fabulous story. However, I could not get out of my mind American Made, a 2017 a movie starring Tom Cruise, which already told that story. To me, the man’s story felt repetitive and I doubted I could do it justice.
I referred him to another ghostwriting service.
Another problem with beginning a new story is knowing whether the idea will falter before it really gets going. There’s nothing less appealing to read than a story that bored the person who wrote it. The author’s boredom comes across loud and clear, making the reader wonder why he or she even bothered to write it. When transitioning from one manuscript to the next story, that particular problem worries me.
Since finishing my last book, Hogtied (going live on Valentine’s Day), I dithered in the usual fog characterizing the state of “between manuscripts.” My mind ping-ponged among ideas, none of them really catching spark. It’s a good thing that I have a mighty backlog of undeveloped manuscripts started. I scrolled through them, aware that something about the ideas within those files once inspired me to at least begin writing. I came back to one particular story a couple of times and the sparks began to flare. Ah hah! By Jove, I think I’ve got it!
So, here we go. I’ve got another story underway. I even have a general idea for the plot, which is often more than I envision at this stage. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time and opportunity for the plot to morph into something entirely unintended.
But, just to give you a hint, here’s a quick synopsis:
Professional photographer Dana Secrest has a secret and doesn’t even know it. When she storms from her best friend’s home on Christmas Eve–not the wisest decision she’s ever made–security contractor Samuel Galdicar follows her to save her from her own hot temper. Upon arriving home, Dana discovers her house has been ransacked. Then an attempt is made on her life. She doesn’t know who’s trying to kill her or why, but Sam is determined to protect the woman whose eyes don’t need a camera to see the truth.
Yes, the plot has been done before. However, that story didn’t begin because I read or watched something similar. It erupted in a spurt of irritation, even annoyance, from a constant theme within the romance genre that never fails to make my teeth itch: abuse masquerading as romance. The story begins with my heroine calling out the abuse of her friend caught within the trap of a BDSM relationship.
After the initial confrontation, I wasn’t sure what to do with the protagonists or where to take the plot. Then I had an idea. It wasn’t a particularly original idea, but it fit. In fact, it hearkens back to the old movie Blowup (1966) that I first watched in college as part of a class assignment. I didn’t particularly like the movie, but something about it obviously stuck in my mind. Other variations of that plot have come since. Unlike Blowup, my version will have a satisfactory ending, the requisite HEA.
What we read (and watch) really does influence what we write. Now I wonder when the discovery that venerated science fiction author Isaac Asimov was a masher will make its appearance in a story.
You know it will.