EXCERPT from "No Such Thing as Original Sin" by Thomas F. Monteleone in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
I’m going to talk about something rarely discussed in all those books and articles about writing: the need to be original.
Editors learn early in the game their primary job is to find reasons to reject your story or novel—some of the classics include poor grammar, bad dialogue, wooden characters, and absence of plot—and my job is to warn you off another easy one (for them, not for you). There are plenty of words for it: trite, clichéd, predictable, familiar, and when we’re feeling stylish, prosaic. But they all indicate the same story ailment, which is the inability of the writer to tell an original story, or worst case, a familiar story in an original fashion.
Tom Monteleone has published more than 100 short stories, many which have been nominated for awards, and is editor of seven anthologies, including the highly acclaimed Borderlands series edited with his wife, Elizabeth. He has written award-winning works for the stage and television, including for American Playhouse, George Romero’s Tales from the Darkside, and a series on Fox TV entitled Night Visions. Of his thirty-six books, The Blood of the Lamb received the 1993 Bram Stoker Award and The New York Times Notable Book of the Year Award. He also wrote the bestseller, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel (2004). He recently moved from New Hampshire to Maryland with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Olivia.