Monday, August 13, 2007

The Same Story, Second Verse

Paulette asked a question in the comment trail of my list of books read. I went to answer it in the same trail, but it was so thought-provoking, I realized I'd better bring it over here to do it more justice.

I am curious though... with reading so MANY story lines, do you ever get bored with certain books... simply because you may have read so many others with similiar story-lines? Boy meets girl, for example... or a classic Good vs Evil? I mean, it seems that you wouldn't necessarily put it down, but do you ever grumble in your thoughts about how "repetitive" authors might be? (if we are??)

I would have to say that every book basically starts out with the same premise. The character has a problem or encounters a problem. The character goes somewhere or someone new comes to town. The character wants something they don't have and so they go searching for it. Nearly every book you can think of will fall into one of these categories.

What makes each book different?

1. Who is the main character?

2. What is the problem they encounter or have?

3. Where do they go, or who comes to town?

4. What is it that they want, and don't have?

5. (Perhaps most importantly) To what lengths are they willing to go, and do they go, in order to bring a resolution to their problem?

Other contributing factors will be:

a. What is their attitude in facing their problem?

b. Do they face it or do they avoid it until they are forced to face it?

c. Do they learn from the experience, and if so, what do they learn?

d. Are they different at the end of the book than they were at the first, i.e. did their experience change them?

So to answer the question, Paulette, yes, there are a lot of storylines that are done to death. But a clever author will take the basic premise and shoot it out of the ordinary.

I rarely put down a book because of a tired premise, because it's getting to where there is no such thing as a truly unique storyline. They've all been done to death and now authors are just putting their own twists and turns on what's already been written. I put books down if they're badly written, if they have inappropriate content, or if I can't get into them.


Anonymous said...


Is your new book going to be published through Granite Publishing and Distribution or another publisher?


Tristi Pinkston said...

Hi Jacob,

At this moment, I do not know, but I'll make an announcement as soon as I have something to announce!

I know, that's such a non-answer. But I'm not trying to be evasive -- I just don't know! :)

Jen said...

"So to answer the question, Paulette, yes, there are a lot of storylines that are done to death. But a clever author will take the basic premise and shoot it out of the ordinary."

I completely agree, a twist on the "usual" is often what makes a fabulous plot out of a run of the mill story.

~paulette said...

Reading so many books then must be a fine-line you walk, between using them as an advantage to write something new and unusual, based on your knowledge, and having them be a discouragement, knowing that everything you can think of has already been done. Do you feel either of these with yourself?

Lynne said...

I enjoyed viewing your blog Tristi. I agree on the twist of a story. It captures me everytime. Lynne Nelson

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