Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Originality ... is there really such a thing? I mean, how many times can someone create a fresh original plot featuring fresh original characters? Hasn't it all been done by now?

According to Agent Donald Maass: "Originality comes not from your genre, setting, plot, characters, voice or any other element on which we can work. It cannot. It isn’t possible. Originality can come only from what you bring of yourself to your story. In other words, originality is not a function of your novel; it is a quality in you" ( Writer Unboxed post ).

Okay. But what does that mean?

Agent Kimberly Shumate wrote: "Out of the 50+ submissions I receive each week, there will be five projects that catch my eye mostly for their originality. Out of those five, maybe one will survive the scrutiny and editorial changes I suggest. ... If the author is willing to work with me to make their book the best it can be, this usually results with an offer of a contract, but it’s about one out of 100 submissions that are signed. Originality is what I look for first" ( Guide to Literary Agents post ).

Okay. But what is orginality?

And Agent Laney Katz Becker wrote regarding a query letter she'd received: "After reading the pitch, I’m loving this because it all sounds so fresh. You can literally go through each sentence and not come up with another novel that features the same thing. For instance, can you name
another book where the protagonist is a medical illustrator? How about a story where a young girl and an adult woman (who aren’t related) form some special bond? And a celebrity chef?! It all just sounds like a story I haven’t read before—and I really like that" ( Guide to Literary Agents post ).

Okay ...

Merriam Webster, don't leave me hanging here ...

Definition of ORIGINALITY
1: the quality or state of being original
2: freshness of aspect, design, or style
3: the power of independent thought or constructive imagination


So ... does your writing have ORIGINALITY (aka the state of being original)??


  1. I think it's possible that we can all bring originality to our stories even within the restrictive framework of a specific genre. We all the see the world differently. If we write from that place - the place that no one else has seen, it will be original.

  2. I would like to think I have some original stories. How many people write with the Caribbean as their back-drop? From the perspective of a white child growing up in the minority on a island? It's lots of fun.

  3. Well, I write from my soul and I am an original person. I know this because every time I do something I think is genuinely creative and fun, my friends typically will say, "Only you, Diane."


    I'm not sure if any of it comes through in my writing. I certainly hope it does!

  4. So nice reading what the agents said. Great post and good information!

  5. Great question...what is originality. I come up with some great ideas and then search on the web only to find someone's thought of them already (and I bet they weren't the original thinkers of whatever-it-is either).
    Rhia from Five Minute Piece for Inspriation (about #777 on the A to Z list).

  6. I agree in the sense that there is (almost) no such thing as a new idea - most of it has been said before. But where we can always be original is in how we say it.

  7. I think a lot of originality also stems from a true passion for your story and characters, too.

  8. I find it comforting that it is the originality of the voice rather than the plot that publishers want, if that is true. I have to say that as ideas/plots go, it is hard to think of anything terribly original, it seems to me.