Monday, June 23, 2008

What is "a new fresh voice?"

Now here is something we hear all of the time from editors and agents. Heck, I say it all of the time. We want a new and fresh voice.

But what are we really saying.

For many authors, they interpret this as simply being a new name on the shelf. Unfortunately, this is not what we are saying. I will stress, if a new author can be the new and fresh voice, then fine with us. In reality, this concept is not talking about how much an author has published but the content of the story.

How often have you picked up a book and thought you had already read it? Lately, this seems to be happening to me more often than not. Sure, I will bet some of it is attributed to that infamous "senior moment" but more likely, it is due to the fact that the story I have just read is so similar to others that are out there.

The story was simply not new, fresh or orignial. Sure the writing was good. The story was well developed, but there it wasn't original. In fact, when I get submissions like this, one of the descriptive phrases I log into my submission data base is "same old, same old." (Yes, I do keep records of everything people have submitted).

So, what do we want. Suprise me. The key is to find something that hasn't been done before, or at least not done a whole lot. Now for some writers, they seem to think it is just a matter of sending the characters to a different location. That's fine, but if the story is the same... well all you did was change the scenery. This is part of my complaint about the paranormals right now. Just by changing a werewolf to a werecat doesn't fix the problem.

I know what some of you are thinking. All of the stories have been told out there and we just recycle the old. Personally, this is far from the truth. The themes are the same but the stories aren't. There are infinite combinations of themes and plots out there to create something new.

I also believe this is not something just for new authors, but for the established authors. My wife and I often joke about this. We'll read one of our favorite authors and suddenly the story bottoms out. The book is just plain bad. When we see this, we often attribute it to being the author's 8th book. Something just happens and by book 8 the stories are just blah! O.K. it isn't all of the time, but you get the idea.

The thing is, this problem plagues every writer.

So, with that said, your job is to take a look at your current WIP and see if it is truly fresh and unique. If not, turn it around look at it from another angle and see if you can make it better. I dare you!

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