Solomon was among the wisest who ever lived. He is the one who said “Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before.” (Ecclesiastes 1). Does that mean that there is nothing original to be written? Yes, but no. It’s not the idea (or plot) that needs to be original; it is the way it is written—that is, the ‘voice’ of the story. The way the story is told brings a fresh perspective to old tropes. Voice is the vocabulary, tone, point of view, style and sentence flow. Voice is the length of chapters, the way the plot is arranged and the words used; the way characters are built. Now, there is another aspect to originality and that is ‘imagination.’ Radio is the perfect example and a novel almost as good. When I listened to radio as a youngster, my imagination soared and was scared by sound effects, such as a blood-curdling scream; or excited by the approaching siren of a cop-car coming to the rescue. Today, readers are fewer, but just as hungry for novels that ignite the imagination and, to sum up, originality in writing is the perfect vehicle to bring it to the page. The wonderful thing about writing is that it is a window that opens onto the world, yet each window shows a different view—a unique, original view for the mind. The best writing is a wider window that opens a wider view.
- George Saunders: On the Tricks of the Writing Process
- Rising Tension and Chapter Endings