Creativity in Literature through the ages.

I had a power point presentation for you to link to covering creativity in classic and successful works of literature through out history from the days of Gutenberg to the Harry Potters of today.

But that would be way too boring and long. Or maybe it wouldn’t be, but it would take way too much time.

We all get ideas. Some are great. Some are pure suckage. Or wait, maybe it has nothing to do with the idea and more about the presentation. And the creativity behind the presentation and the writing.

I love reading the Chet Gecko series by Bruce Hale because the words surprise me on every page. Chet Gecko’s humorous narration keeps me reading page after page regardless of what’s going on in the story.

I also love reading I So Don’t Do Mysteries by Barrie Summy, because again, the fun writing style and voice keeps me flipping pages. I just finished I So Don’t Do Spooky and it’s better than the first!

I loved reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson because every word reflects the dark mood of the story. And I cared about the main character. She was real to me. I would have followed her anywhere.

But all of these stories, written by someone else, might have flopped. I’ve heard that any great writer can take any idea and mold it into a great story. I read about agents stating that in their slush they see too many predictable stories with not enough tension.

I challenge you to really look at your story, your writing, your structure, your words, your scenes, your dialogue.  Are they predictable? How can you change them so every page surprises a reader and keeps their eyes glued to the page.

And yeah, I know, easier said than done.

, ,

20 Responses to Creativity in Literature through the ages.

  1. Jody Hedlund April 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Great reminder this morning, Laura. I’m halfway through my WIP, and I certainly don’t want it to become too predictable.

  2. Julie April 5, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Great post, Laura. I’ve never gone through and looked at my writing for predictability, but it’s something that’s important and needs to be done. I am bored by predictable books, so I have to make sure my own writing doesn’t fall into that trap.

  3. Laura April 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Jody and Julie – With this story in particular I’m trying to go with the suprising as I write. But somethings don’t evolve until the rewrites. I know that! 🙂

  4. Anna April 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    Excellent post! I find that if my characters start doing things that surprise me, often they’ll surprise readers too. As a reader, I think there can be comfort in suspecting how a story will play out, but if you exactly predict how things will end then it can be pretty disappointing.

  5. Jackee April 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    It’s a great challenge! Because stories chalked with tension are always us reader’s favorite and memorable ones.

    Now I’m off to add more tension… hee, hee.

  6. Laura April 5, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    Anna – Great point. There is a difference between suprising a reader and crossing the line of suprise to just plain way out there.

    Jackee – Tension can definitely help the surprise factor.

  7. Tina Lee April 5, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    I am reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s: Fever 1794 (I don’t know if that 4 is right) and I totally love it. I think she just has the point of view of this naive narrator so dead on and the mystery of yellow fever hitting everyone around the girl is so compelling. Anderson’s prose is perfect.

    Yeah. I’d love to do it, whatever it is.

  8. PJ Hoover April 5, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Thanks for the challenge! It’s so important to really make our work unique.
    And I loved Barrie Summy’s books!

  9. Laura April 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Tina Lee – I’m going to have study my fav books and see what they do and how they surprise me as a reader.

    PJ – Unique. Definitely. Hard to do though.

  10. Paul Greci April 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

    So true, Laura. I guess it’s not the story, but the way it is told that sets it apart.

  11. Elana Johnson April 5, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    I totally need to do this, because right now I feel like my character is a copy of one I’ve already written. I need to find something that makes him different, makes him not his dad.

    I’m working on it. Working, working, working…

  12. Laura April 5, 2010 at 10:53 pm #

    Paul – I think a big part of it is the structure and the writing that sets a story idea across.

    Elana – Me too. Working, working, working… 🙂

  13. Kris April 6, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I think sometimes predictable can be comfortable – we WANT to know that we know, ya know? The tricky thing is making something predictable, different. And then surprising the reader – so they thought they knew, but didn’t quite. Or am I babbling this morning?

  14. Ansha Kotyk April 6, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Not babbling at all, Kris. We want to sit down to a book and know our character is going to have a tough go of it. That he’s going to have to fight his way to THE END. And once we get there with him, we want to see him triumph over all the adversity that he faced. That I think is the part that we want to be predictable.
    It’s the how he gets to the end, and how he manages to survive and thrive that is unique to each story. And I guess it’s our job to try and create something the reader has never experienced before.
    Now off to review my mss. 🙂

  15. Laura April 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Kris and Ansha – Great points both of you! It truly is an uphill climb to write our best!!

  16. Kelly Polark April 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Great reminder. I spent the last week reading and reading and reading. Next is a big overhaul on my current ms. Changing genres, so a lot needs to be altered. But I’m up for the challenge!
    (I will be reading Wintergirls soon, just won it in a blog contest!)

  17. Kristin Gray April 6, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    As a reader, I want to be surprised, concerned, worried even for the main character. I want to peel back those layers to see if my hunches are right.

    Good reminder to keep on surprising the audience.

  18. Anita Miller April 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    It just takes so much TIIIIIME to write that way. I don’t know if I have it in me. I don’t know.

  19. Dawn Simon April 6, 2010 at 11:10 pm #

    It’s true: great ideas are one thing, execution is another. Nice post!

  20. Kristen Torres-Toro April 7, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    I hope mine aren’t. I think I’m more predictable in speech patterns than in plot points. That’s something I try to work on.

Leave a Reply