So, after last week’s post, you’re getting lots of ideas (or you already had them and you didn’t need my help, anyway, so FINE, JUST FINE) and you’re trying to figure out which one you’re going to work on. It might be tempting to just pick the one you like the best, but having some criteria for choosing more consciously can be beneficial in a number of ways.
The first criteria will help you make your book more unique and more you, both of which will help it stand out in a sea of other books when you try to sell it.
Ask yourself: What makes you unique?
What traits make you different from the next guy in the street? What ideas do you hold that are unusual or controversial? When you read other people’s articles or listen to them talk, what are the things you hear over and over that make you say, “UGH I hear that all the time and it’s so not true! The truth is that _______.”
How are you weird?
You’re gonna need to answer these questions.
Because this, my friends, is how you are going to sell yourself and your book.
Now, if you are at all like me, meaning an introvert and/or a person who suffers from imposter syndrome (always thinking your achievements are not enough, thinking that you are not as amazing as other people think you are), you may not want to think about this stuff. You may be afraid of it. You may feel like those things about you are things you should hide. Maybe you’ve been in the practice of hiding them already.
You’re going to stop that now.
Because those things? They are also what makes you interesting. They are what make people want to know about you. Not all the people, but the ones who are going to read and buy your work. Those things are the things that are going to make your work worth reading. And buying.
Those unique things about you are your greatest assets. Use them.
They are what sets you apart from every other writer. Take advantage of that and write toward it, not away from it.
What’s different about you? What’s special? What’s weird? What do you know that other people don’t? What are you into that’s unusual?
Do you have ideas that few others agree with? Explore those. Build them into the story; consider making one of them the main message.
It’s incredibly hard, when you know a lot of people disagree with you, to go ahead and say the thing that needs to be said anyway. The thing that’s true, no matter how people feel about it. But that’s part of the importance of fiction. That’s what fiction is for. That’s what writing is for.
It’s about digging deep and telling the truth, so don’t ignore the stuff that’s unique about you. Celebrate it. Find a way to use it to make your novel have more impact.
Get beyond safety—go toward something that feels dangerous that you know is true but a lot of people deny. Dig deep into it, get specific, and don’t be afraid to create your own world out of it.
What I want you to do now is get out whatever you use to write, whether it’s the computer or a notebook and pen, and brainstorm your list: What’s different about you? What’s unique, weird, or quirky? What ideas do you hold that not a lot of people agree with?
Next, pull some of them onto a second list. Which of these do you tend to ignore or hide from or not want to discuss with people? They are probably the most interesting and the ones you need to write about most.
From that second list, choose one that seems to matter most to you right now. Do some thinking about how it might overlap with one of your novel ideas. Does it feel scary? Good. Push on that. Dig into it. Powerful writing is scary.
To read Part 2 of this series, head over here.