Story Idea

TSS #010: 3 Ways to Make Your Story Stand Out Even if Somebody Steals Your Idea

Jul 30, 2022

Read Time: 4 minutes

I stole the money.

Five bucks here. Ten there. Twenty was rare.

But she never seemed to notice, so I kept making withdrawals.

Until one day… she panicked. She swore she had more cash in her wallet and she needed it.

So she asked if one of us took it, but I kept my mouth shut.

Because I didn’t want my mother to know I was a rotten, little thief.

Confessions of a Teenage Turd

In my late teens, I apologized to Mother and revealed I was the cash bandit.

She thought it was my little sister.

I confessed more stuff, too. Except she didn’t get angry or show signs of judgment following my disclosures.

Instead, she simply let me make peace with my thievery and continued to be the loving one I call, “Mother.”

Nothing New Under the Sun

I’m not the only one who needs to make peace with their thievery.

Because whether you’re aware or not, you’ve stolen from others.

Small scene here. Big theme there. Thievery everywhere.

Yep, many elements of your story are unoriginal – because many elements were taken from stories you’ve absorbed on the page and screen.

Does that sting?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Either way, I contend it’s the lucid truth because countless stories have already been told. So the odds suggest this probability when you study the history of storytelling.

The Stickiest Storytelling Elements

Even with Grand Theft Author being charged, your story can be special and one-of-a-kind – assuming you honor your uniqueness.

Ponder this: Which of the following elements linger strongest after someone connects with a story?

The setting and locations?

    Potentially.

The plot twists and turns?

    Possibly.

The cast of characters?

    Likely.

The author’s writing voice?

    Hopefully.

The reader’s transformation?

    Probably.

Out of everything listed above, I’d assign characters, writing voice, and reader transformation as the aspects with the strongest odds of lingering in the hearts and minds of readers.

And you don’t have to steal or confess anything to infuse them into your special story.

So let’s look at how you can take advantage of these three aspects:

1. CHARACTERS:

All of your characters say something about you because they express your worldview perspectives.

Except too many storytellers cage their inner personas. This improper restraint results in stick figures falling flat on the page.

Except the opposite end of the spectrum results in the overproduction of characters – also known as caricatures.

  • Caricature: A picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

TIP TO STAND OUT:

One proven way to jumpstart special characters is to understand WHY they do anything.

Everyone operates within the boundaries of their desires.

I do.

So do you.

So you must understand why your characters want everything – because this knowledge helps you understand their decisions — which compels their actions — which in turn makes their personality resonate with readers.

Basically, knowing your characters’ deepest desires will empower you to manifest believable make-believe characters.

2. WRITING VOICE:

You’ve got a writing voice that will continue to change, improve, and evolve throughout your entire life. 

So you must release your original nature and wield whatever writing voice you currently possess. 

And you must avoid trying to sound like somebody else because nobody loves a copycat.

People love originals.

Plus the people in your life connect with you because of your unique voice, so why try and sound like someone else when speaking to the page?

TIP TO STAND OUT:

If you find yourself second guessing your voice during a writing session, grab a note pad and write one reassuring sentence to ground yourself.

Maybe it’s something like, “I am a lucid storyteller and my voice is getting stronger today.”

Or maybe it’s “My voice is already special but it’s becoming more unique with every word written.”

Or maybe it’s another variation that works for you.

But take your written message and keep it within view.

Then look at it and read it aloud whenever insecurity or doubt attempt to sidetrack you.

Remember that everyone edits and rewrites – because first drafts are not final drafts.

And final drafts never become perfect drafts – but all drafts can become special drafts because they possess your one-of-a-kind cadence.

3. READER TRANSFORMATION:

Characters must change and evolve throughout a special story.

And while readers expect characters to transform, they also hope to vicariously experience their own transformation through your characters.

Many of my favorite stories have compelled me to question myself and the world around me.

So let’s recognize it’s okay for you to try and transform the hearts and minds of your audience.

Many storytellers say you shouldn’t include an agenda. I get it.

Because the core goal in fiction must remain entertainment, but with the right balance, entertainment and reader transformation can be combined to help you change the world.

TIP TO STAND OUT:

The simplest way to deliver reader transformation is through your leader characters.

So your transformational message should typically be delivered through your hero.

Jumpstart reader transformation by looking at your story’s bookends:

BEGINNING: 

Ask yourself how you want your readers to feel at the beginning of your special story. (i.e. Imprisoned? Lonely? Hopeless? Etc?)

    • Then include a scene putting your protagonist in a situation that forces them to experience your intended emotions.

ENDING: 

Ask yourself how you want your readers to feel at the end of your special story. What is the transformation they should witness through your hero? (i.e. Free? Loved? Confident? Etc?)

    • Then include a scene putting your protagonist in a situation that showcases how they’ve matured and changed due to their trials and tribulations. Make your readers witness the lessons learned by your hero including the emotional growth they now possess.

When change and transformation are thoughtfully presented through your characters, a story becomes special by offering readers new possibilities and opportunities.

So remember it’s okay to share a message of transformation inside your story – because readers want and need it.

Storytellers just need to deliver it in an entertaining format.

Embrace Your Trinity of Originality 

There’s nothing to do if somebody steals elements from your story.

Because those elements were probably borrowed from someone else anyway, consciously or subconsciously.

So by all means, please look at your favorite stories and repurpose elements to create your story.

Just make sure your characters, writing voice, and reader transformation bleed your uniqueness.

Because it’s this trinity of originality that lingers strongest beyond “The End.”

That’s it for this Saturday, one creative writing tip to help you build a story that connects with audiences.

If found value in this post, would you consider sharing it? Maybe you’ll be helping someone create the story they’ve always wanted to write.

See ya next week!

— David

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… I’m still offering free 30 minute story coaching sessions… so let’s connect and clarify your hero’s story goal or any other component to create a cohesive storyline.