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Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's Different About Your Novel?

If you write about a hot topic like I do agents and editors are going to want to know what’s different about your novel. What makes it stand out from the masses in a way that introduces something fresh but still manages to grab readers that are looking for that type of novel? Yesterday I came across a novel that on the surface sounded a lot like mine. I was horrified. What publisher was going to pick me up when there was a book out there just like mine? I immediately clicked on the link to read more about the book.

Turns out this book was nothing like mine! Whew! But on the surface it had looked like it was exactly like mine. It dawned on me that if I thought that a publisher considering buying my novel might too. I needed to change the ‘surface’ of my novel, or more to the point, bring to the forefront what was different about it.

For starters, pointing out that the protagonist was a sixteen year old girl about to discover her life wasn’t what she thought it was is a huge clique. True, that’s how it starts, but many young adult novels start that way. I was putting the emphasis where it didn’t belong. The really interesting part that makes my protagonist stand out from others in paranormal/urban fantasy YA is that she’s multi-racial and the story behind why. What makes my story stand out isn’t that it’s a werewolf story. The unique part about it is that it centers on a species that’s going extinct because they’re tied closely to the dying Earth.

When you’re getting ready to submit and market your story focus on what makes it unique from other novels of its type. Find your individuality and agents and publishers will too!

6 comments:

  1. I have to tell you that I'm DYING to read your book. DYING. :)

    I'm right in the midst of trying to articulate what's 'different' about my own novel. I'm working to snag an agent now, and because my YA takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting, I'm getting a surprising number of agents who are actually commending my writing skills, but passing in the end. I'm constantly rewriting my query letter trying to emphasize that my story isn't about the end of the world. It's about how one nineteen year old girl chooses to live peacefully between two warring races, and how that choice affects her.

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  2. Great point! I had that same moment of panic when writing my first manuscript and 'The Host' came out. OMG it's like mine! But I read it and it was completely different in every way. Big sigh.

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  3. Thanks A.Gray that is so sweet! Any time someone says that it makes me kind of tear up, in a good way :) Yours sounds intriguing, especially the part about her chooses to live peacefully. Sounds to me like you've got what makes it stand out nailed! Now its just a matter of finding the right agent. I wish you the very best of luck!

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  4. Its horrible when that happens isn't it Lorel? I felt like my heart had stopped! But the beauty of that is, once you read more about the book you start to see major differences. I'm so glad yours turned out to be really different, whew! Its a good reminder for us to learn what's different and highlight those points. Good luck with your book!

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  5. Good advice, Heather. This hasn't happened to me yet, but I bet it will before all is said and done. It's tough to be truly original, isn't it?

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  6. A famous writer (sorry I forget who) once said there are no original ideas left. But the tough part is realizing how your story IS original and focusing on the elements that make it that way! In YA every protagonist is a teenager going through major changes, or else it wouldn't be YA. Finding the focus is what it's all about!

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