Is Anything Original?

After discovering I’d already written a book with a premise she thought was original to her work-in-progress, an aspiring novelist asked me, “Is anything original?”

That’s an age-old question, one every writer has asked—even King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10):

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
‘Look! This is something new’?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.”

When a review for my novel, In the Still of Night—about a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape—appeared in Library Journal, it followed a review of Francine Rivers’s wonderful book, The Atonement Child, about, of course, a woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape. I could not believe it!

I now know every story has been done before. But no one—not even Francine Rivers—could tell my story the way I did. Did mine sell as many copies as hers? Not even a fraction. But God used that book to touch lives—including the life of a real young woman who gave birth to a baby conceived through rape. Maybe my book was for her. It doesn’t matter. I wrote the story God gave me, and that’s all I could do.

If God has given you a story, tell it as only you can. God created you with a distinctive voice, unique life circumstances, and a way of telling the story that will resonate with certain readers. Your story will be as individual as a snowflake, as different from mine as you and I are from each other.

Don’t be discouraged if your idea shows up in a book with someone else’s name on the cover. Write your story anyway. There really is nothing new under the sun—except you!

Deborah Raney’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. After All, the final book in her Hanover Falls series, released in May 2012 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and she is currently working on a standalone novel. Deb will teach Writing Women’s Fiction and The Perfect Word at Writing for the Soul in 2013. Visit her online.

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  1. says

    This was such a blessing to me.

    Sometimes I feel like the stories I want to tell end up so cliche, or they’ve been told 100 different ways before. I needed the reminder that I alone have been given my way to tell the story God has given me, so thank you. :)

  2. Audrey McLaughlin says

    Originality is something that I struggle with, and I love your phrase “Don’e be discouraged if your idea shows up in a book with someone else’s name on the cover.”

    Thank you for sharing your viewpoint on the issue of originality!

  3. Rachel Laird says

    Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve just been wondering about originality of my ideas and hearing that I should tell the story God wants me to tell came at the right time. Thanks.

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