September 23, 2009

Subject: Favorite Quotations from Donald Maass

I often refer to Donald Maass's book Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook when I need ideas about where to focus in revision. I picked up his newest book, The Fire in Fiction, a few months ago. In the back, he talks about originality and theme. How, when so many books come out every year, do you write something unique?

The following quotations helped me when I learned about a book that had a similar storyline to my work-in-progress and panicked, wondering whether I should continue writing:
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.
He follows that with:
Finding the power buried in your novel is not about finding its theme. I would say, rather, that it is about finding you: your eyes, experience, understanding and compassion. Ignore yourself and your story will be weak.
This resonates with me because it reminds me that I have to put myself into my writing. I'm not just telling a story--I'm telling a story that means something to me. That is what makes it unique.

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