“Unique concept + Voice + Craft.”

Agent Sarah Davies tweeted this yesterday. “Unique concept + Voice + Craft.”

Isn’t this what we’re all searching for? Not only in our writing but in books we read? I know I am.

Unique concept:

From what I’ve read and from my own experience of scribbling down ideas, the most unique concept is not the first idea we get. We’ve all read to list ten, twenty ideas and keep going until our idea is unique.

 But then we hear that there is no new story.

  • Practice at coming up with unique ideas – even if you never write it.
  • Take a somewhat good idea and add a spin, twist it, mash it up until it is unique.
  • Take your idea and keep asking What if – over and over and over and over.
  • Don’t play it safe. Take risks. Be bold.
  • Read and know what’s out there.


  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Don’t settle for blah verbs and descriptions.
  • Know your characters inside and out. Be true to them.
  • Get rid of those clunky sentences.
  • Lose your self-consciousness.
  • Use sensory details.


  • Read, read, read.
  • Write, write, write.
  • I love studying books with writing that I love.
  • Work hard and be purposeful in your efforts to learn craft.

If you haven’t read the Baker’s Dozen auction to see what agents bidded on – take a look. It didn’t surprise me at all that certain titles were in demand. It all came back to unique concept + voice + craft.

And I’ve happened to have  read a couple books this past week that fit the bill. More on Friday!

I challenge you to come up with three unique story concepts. Today. Even if you don’t write them. Go ahead. Do it.

, ,

16 Responses to “Unique concept + Voice + Craft.”

  1. Andrea December 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Great post, Laura! I’m going to print it out and glue it in my writing notebook.

    Except I wonder sometimes, if you’re a new, unproven author, will agents/editors take a chance on your unique concept?

    I also like your point about being purposeful in learning the craft. I think you can grow by writing and writing even more, but it’s great if you can pinpoint your areas of weakness and work to develop them.

    • Laura December 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

      Nelsa – I might try and come up with a bunch of unique ideas but it doesn’t mean I’ll write all of them – but who knows? I might find one I love.

      Katie – Can’t you make that book you feel like reading – special, different, unique in its own way?

      Andrea – I think it’s hard to find agent interest unless your story idea is unique.

  2. Creepy Query Girl December 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    I try and keep a file for every idea I’ve had. IT is a difficult balance between being unique and writing the kind of book you feel like reading.

  3. Nelsa December 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    Hi Laura: I saw that tweet too and couldn’t agree more. That unique concept, gah, it’s like finding a diamond in a field of rocks, isn’t it? So hard to find because an unpolished diamond looks like just another black rock. But, boy, when you polish it up that’s the winner. I don’t know if I’ll come up with 3 unique story concepts today but I try to come up with at least 3 a year. That’s all I can manage!

  4. Stina Lindenblatt December 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    My new wip is definitely a new concept, which is why I’m so excited about it. 😀

    Great post! I’ve only peeked at the bidding for one or two entries. Not that I actually read the entries. But the agents doing the bidding have been hiliarious.

    • Laura December 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

      Stina – That’s great! Enjoy the writing! That’s what I’m doing to – new wip love.

      Kelly – I guess it’s narrowing down the ideas to the best one! Go with your heart.

      MG – Yes, definitely knowing what’s out there is most important.

      Angela – I haven’t come up with 3 yet – but one.

      Laurel – I hope you shut down the internal editor. I do think voice has a lot to do with freeing ourselves and not worrying about how it sounds or if we’re following the rules. Good luck!

  5. Kelly Polark December 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Oh, man. I have so many idea for books from picture books to YA. I just wish I had more time to develop them all!

  6. MG Higgins December 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Really interesting. I think one of your best points is to read, otherwise it’s tough to know what’s unique. (Okay, you can get some of that from jacket blurbs–but then you don’t get a sense of voice and craft.) I’d been thinking about checking out the Baker’s Dozen. Now I definitely will! Thanks for the link.

  7. Angela Felsted December 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    It’s a good challenge. Brainstorming for new ideas.

  8. Laurel December 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Great tips, here. I think I especially needed to hear the ones about voice. I’ve been a bit blocked by the internal editor and need to regain my freedom.

  9. Sherrie Petersen December 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    I think we’re all drawn to stories that manage to mix something familiar, with something completely new and different. And oddly enough, most of my stories are either based off real life or something I’ve read in a nonfiction book!

  10. Susan R. Mills December 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Okay, then, I’m off to come up with some new concepts!

  11. susan kaye quinn December 8, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    I love studying books with writing that I love.

    This is a powerful way, I think, to push yourself to strive harder, write better, reach higher. 🙂

  12. Jemi Fraser December 9, 2010 at 12:16 am #

    I haven’t been over to the auction yet – life has just been too chaotic lately!! I always learn so much from Authoress’ site!

  13. Lydia K December 9, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    What can I say except, I’m really, really trying to do these things! I hope I succeed…

    • Laura December 9, 2010 at 2:42 am #

      As aspiring writers with blogs, I think we’re all trying hardest to have a mix of all those things. Concept and craft. Best of luck to everyone! It’s not an easy road.

Leave a Reply