How To Find Unique Flavor For Each Novel – Rearranging the Spice Drawer

Cooking at my house can be a blend of where east meets west sometimes. With a blend of Chinese and American cuisine you can imagine the amount of spices in our spice drawer. Make that two spice drawers.

The more variety of spices to choose from, the more diversity your dishes can have in flavor. This past week I organized our spice drawers and it made me think about what kind of spices I like best. Could I mix things up a bit to create more variety in our dinners?

Writing is much the same way. When we rearrange the spices we work with we create a more unique flavor for each novel.

Finding the unique flavor for each novel is as easy as changing up the following spices:

*Location. Varying the location of where a story takes place can change everything. It changes the details and richness that create story world.

*Occupations. Striving for more unique character occupations will change the direction of a story just because of the kinds of events and competence your character will inspire.

*Quirky Character Types. Not every story can have the same type of quirky characters. You select different ones for different novels. You may have a dry humor sidekick in one and a goth scientist in another.

*Who Gets The Point of View Scenes. You will always have point of view perspective from your hero and heroine, but the type of characters you give additional POV scenes to when developing a subplot can vary greatly.

*Villain Type. There are many different kinds of villains in all genre’s. Everything from the unintentional villain to the sociopath. Even Romance can have a villain of a blander variety. Mix up the villain type and adversity they create.

*Spiritual Thread. The spiritual truth in each of our novels should be varied. You may run into some that are similar due to series theme or focus, but you do want it to variate somewhat.

*Relationships. The success of different types of relationships for your hero and heroine should fluctuate. The heroine can’t always be adopted, or always have a poor relationship with her father. There should be a mix and match of different character relationships.

Remember that even though you rearrange the spice drawer, you are still the cook and your cuisine should have your signature style or voice.

What kind of things do you like to read in a novel that give it a unique flavor?


Stubborn Writer’s Tantrums

Have you ever seen a two year old tantrum? The amount of energy they expend in their screaming and body stomping is incredible. Just try picking them up in the middle of a tantrum…get ready for a bruise or two.

Kids go through a stubborn stage in preschool that is intense. As parents we pray everyone will survive it and most of all we never give in.

What inspires such tantrums? The desire to have their way. Sometimes what they want isn’t all bad, but the timing or quantity makes it a bad choice.

As writer’s sometimes we go through a stubborn phase. You know that moment when you decide to ignore the rules and the voices around you to reach for uniqueness?

Sometimes that stubbornness is for good reason to protect our voice, but more often it is the ache of letting go of something we love whether it is right or wrong.

How do you determine if your stubbornness is to protect your voice or merely a stubborn desire to hold on to something you love? 

*Consider the Source. Does the source that has recommended change have the skills to know what they are talking about? If so, you should consider the recommendation more carefully.

*Pray about the advice to determine if it changes the story God gave you to write. Does it impact the spiritual truth you feel is meant to be revealed in your novel?

*Analyze Other Novels in Your Genre. Take a look at that particular element of other novels in your genre. Does your analysis match the recommendation or oppose it?

*Get a Second Opinion from a Reliable Source. If you are diagnosed with a deadly disease, you get a second opinion. Diagnosing problems in your novel should be no different. Ask someone with skill in this area to give you their opinion.

*Does It Break The Rules Of Your Fiction Genre?  Sometimes we can break the rules, but the newer the writer the fewer the rules you can afford to break if you want to be published.

*Does It Change Your Voice? Voice is the combination of word choice, sentence structure, pacing and rhythm to your writing. Have an objective reader look at your work with a before and after. Ask them if they think it is the same writer and which one they like better. Make sure this individual is a skilled writer.

Find a few reliable writing craft sources or blogs that can help you analyze the validity of the recommendation. Here are a few of my favorites:

The end goal as a writer is publication. If something that you are being stubborn about is keeping you from being published, make sure that your reason for avoiding the change is to protect your voice or the story truth that you feel God intended for you to write.

How do you determine if you’re being stubborn to protect your voice or just because you don’t want to let go of something you love?