Is Anything Original?

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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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4 Responses to Is Anything Original?

  1. Sarah 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. Rebekah Weigner says:

    That was really helpful! Thanks! :)

  4. 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.