I’ve decided not to be too obsessive about the blog anymore, so posting every single day is probably a thing of the past. Unless I find something really interesting that I have to talk about. Today, I found it at Bookends LLC:
What I think is that there are very few amazing and original ideas out there. The truth is that most of you are writing from a box of ideas, and what really matters when writing your book is the execution. I’ve seen a thousand different cozy mysteries and hundreds of vampire submissions. None of these are really new ideas. What makes a book dance for me (and for editors) is the execution.
Agent Jessica Faust talks about Idea versus Execution and how the ARC of a manuscript she was reading echoed a manuscript she’d rejected. Have you ever had that eerie feeling that you’ve read something before, but you can’t put your finger on it? I sure have.
Still, how do we handle this as writers? Everyone says that no two writers will write the same idea the same way, and I agree, but have you ever known anyone who was rejected because an editor or agent just took on a similar manuscript? It happens all the time.
Jessica says we are writing from a box of ideas. I find that somehow frightening and comforting too. Sometimes, I see the blurb for a book and think, “Wow, how’d they come up with that idea?” And then I wonder why my idea machine doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, I think I’m not creative at all.
I think the box of ideas is like Jung’s collective unconscious, though. Ideas are floating like messages in a bottle and any one of us can pluck them out of the sea. But the messages aren’t unique. It’s what you do with the message that makes your idea different.
On the other hand, are there some people who go beyond the box or the collective unconscious and tap into something truly extraordinary? How about J.K. Rowling? Where did that woman come up with muggles and flue powder and stuff like that?
But isn’t Harry Potter the manifestation of the archetypal hero? His journey follows Campbell’s mythic steps, and there are echoes of popular myth and archetype throughout the stories. Yet it’s Rowling’s clever presentation of her ideas that keeps us enthralled, no matter that Harry Potter and Odysseus, for example, essentially share the same path.
And that’s what Jessica Faust is talking about.