What is Fresh?

Most writers love listening to editors or agents speak at conferences, or reading their interviews. When asked what they’re looking for in terms of stories, they’ll often say something fresh. What does fresh mean in their eyes? They’re not talking about flirtatiousness or cool air. :) In my opinion, they’re talking about something they haven’t read a hundred times before, or even ten times before. They want uniqueness and originality in both the story line and the writing style. What that means for us is... trash those clichés of all types. Not just things like “avoid like the plague” but also uninventive descriptions of kisses or anything that is similar to what we’ve read in the past. If it makes you think blah, blah, blah... it's out.

How can you make your writing fresh? Read a lot and write a lot. When you read, you will sometimes come across passages, sentences or descriptions that sound bland and boring to you, maybe because you’ve read something similar before. That means it isn’t fresh. When you read something fresh, you think wow, I wish I’d written that. How vivid and original that is.

The more you write, the more experience you acquire and the fresher your writing becomes. Often the first things we write are not incredibly fresh. We are, after all, learning how to write from the ground up.

If you judge unpublished writing contests, you will often see passages that are not fresh enough. Use this experience to learn what is fresh and what isn’t.

Story lines that are the “same ole same ole” are also not fresh. If type of story has been done a million times, like vampires or regular Regency romance, then you need a completely new, inventive spin on the tried and true. Unique hooks and high concepts that quickly catch an editor’s attention are usually fresh. Think of “fresh” as new. Something you haven’t read before.

What would you consider “fresh?” Or have you read any fresh stories recently?



Anonymous said...

Great topic, Nicole.

What have I read that's fresh? Well, I like your Scottish based romances (I'm not just saying that either). They're not the same old thing that's been done a 1000X. You always add something different, a different angle, to them.

For example, Kilted Lover. I've never read anything with caber-tossing. Or having it start out with being set at Scottish games.

THAT was fresh.

Nicole North said...

Thanks so much, Casey!!! I'm so glad you thought it was fresh! :) I have so much fun creating those stories!
Big hugs!

Rebecca Lynn said...

I agree with Casey. I think that the new twists on old ideas are something that I consider to be fresh. One of the best books I've read in awhile was the Soulless series by Gail Carriger. A great twist on the historical experience.

I like the little twists, too. Like having paranormal creatures that are new or that are unusual. :-) Like kelpies. :-)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

My only problem with writing something fresh is that when you submit your work 'they' don't know where to put it and won't accept it. Nobody wants mine because it doesn't fit into their molds. They say it is great work, but not for them and to be sure to try someone else who takes westerns even though it isn't a western, just a story set in the west. :(

Beth Trissel said...

Excellent topic and good points to consider.

Anonymous said...

Nicole, one thing that is definitely NOT fresh are my son's gym socks. Jokes aside, this was a great blog. I remember being an art student, years ago, and my teacher saying, "Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary." I couldn't agree more about reading a lot. James Scott Bell urges in "The Art of War for the Writer," to read POETRY. The best writers craft almost lyrical, poetic sentences and observances. Their deep thinking comes through.

Jena Lang said...

Great post, Nicole. I think different historical settings can make familiar stories seem new. I recently read KISS OF THE ROSE, the 1st book in the Tudor Vampire Chronicles by Kate Pearce. I liked how she incorporated Druid lore into her vampire saga. Very fresh!

Vonnie Davis said...

Coming up with a fresh idea for a romance is like coming up with a fresh idea for dinner after being married for forty years. If one researches enough, digs deep enough and throws in one's own flair...it can be done. As creative individuals, it's up to us to open up and embrace our creative whims. Listen to how easy it is for me to say this, when I struggle with it myself. Basically, we write for ourselves. We write what we like in the manner we like. Now, will publishers like what we write? Ah, there's the rub...

Nicole North said...

Rebecca, thanks for the book series recommendation! I'm glad you liked the kelpie twist in my story! Thanks!!

Paisley, yes, you've hit upon a good point. "The same but different" is a phrase I hear a lot. ("But not too different" is tacked on the end.) The hard part is knowing how different.

Thanks Beth!! I'm glad you liked it!

Anonymous, I love that saying! And lyrical writers are my favorite so I must agree with him, although I rarely read poetry. I'll have to try that!

Jena, that book sounds fascinating! Druids and vampires during the Tudor period seems fresh and new to me. I'll have to check it out.

Vonnie, LOL! That's true! Yes, we have to write what we love, and then hope others love it too.