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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Use A New Approach

Most popular tags for this image include: eyes

This little poster should serve to make you sit up and pay attention. There's something about looking into another's eyes, or maybe 'eye' in this case, that commands your presence. The reason I selected it today is that time and again, I see a call for submissions asking for an original look at at an already covered subject.

Editors receive so many submissions that make them heave a huge sigh and think This has been done over and over. Give me something fresh. How many times do we read a book review in which the reviewer tells us that the story is well-done but predictable? 

What a successful writer does to combat either of the above situations is to use an original approach, to write with fresh eyes like the poster advises us. Sounds so easy, doesn't it? Sad to say, it's far more difficult than most people realize. Especially readers. They're the ones wanting that more original slant but it's the writers who must come up with an entirely new approach.

Children's magazine editors often put out a plea for stories on holidays like Halloween and Christmas that offer somethng new. If it's been done before, they don't want it. New writers, in particular, tend to copycat stories they liked themselves as children. No, they aren't plagarizing, but those older stories stayed with them and they write what they may think of as a different approach. In reality, they're right back to Susie and Nellie and the creaky door in Grandma's house. Or whatever story they happened to like a lot when they were kids themselves. 

We tell new writers to avoid writing phrases that are cliches. That goes for whole stories as well. If it's a tried and true subject but has a fresh approach, an editor is going to sit up and give it a second look. It's the same with essays and articles. Magazines don't want to keep printing stories or articles that all run in the same vein. Maybe a subject is very popular and you run across an article on it in several magazines. The one with a new approach is going to capture your attention and make you read to the end, isn't it? 

As writers, we want to avoid the same old, same old in what we submit for publication. That old story about the editor who told a reporter that Dog bites man is not newsworthy, but man bites dog definitely is puts it in a few but important words.

Another thing to avoid is to try to write in the same style as an author you admire. Don't do it. Develop your own style. Be an original. 

Write something new. Write an original approach to an old story. Write with fresh eyes. 

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