I’ve been on this planet for… wait, someone in Hollywood might be reading… 27 years. Yeah, that’s it… 27 years. In all that time, I’ve seen lots of dead animals on lots of roads. The other day, driving to Blockbuster, I saw one I’d never seen before. A dead kitten.
Needless to say, it evoked far different emotions and thought processes than the ubiquitous dead deer or dead skunk. I can’t get it out of my head.
You ask, “What does this have to do with writing, you loathsome creature? Mess up my morning latte with horrific visions of a limp grey and white fluffy ball of what used to be cuddly cuteness… You jerk.”
Every aspect of your writing must be unique, as unique as a dead kitten in the middle of the road, gross as it might be, my example. You must come up with stuff for your scene or your story that is so different from everything that has been in every other movie (or novel) that the reader has never, ever seen said stuff.
Like me. In my 27 years of driving, I’d never seen a dead kitten on the road. Oops, wait. 27 minus 16, whatever that is. How many years of driving is that? I’m not very good at math. One of the reasons I became a writer.
I’ve seen dead deer, dogs, rabbits, foxes, cows… all of the above, repeatedly… but a dead kitten, only the one time.
Cold Mountain, the novel, is a superb example of this. What happens in that guy’s scenes, I’d never seen before. He is incredibly creative and as you read it, you know you’re in the hands of a master. Actions and set pieces are always fresh. Every time. It’s unique. Surprising. Not a retread from fifteen movies! Not something half-baked and only barely original. That guy worked hard and took massive heaps of time to come up with stuff you’ve never seen, ever.
So should you.