STATUS: Busy day continuing all my negotiations.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? SO IN LOVE by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark
On Saturday morning (way too bright and early for my taste), I spoke on a women’s fiction panel at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.
I decided to tackle the theme of overdone story ideas that we’ve been seeing lately. I promised to share it with the blog readers but I do have to add one caveat.
You have to know that there actually isn’t anything wrong with any of these story ideas. What I’m trying to point out by sharing this list is that if you highlight the story idea as being what’s original about your query, you’re probably going to get a pass because these themes are so common, they don’t come across as fresh.
So if you have tackled one of these story ideas for the basis of your novel, you have to not only focus on that idea but what else that makes the story original or a story that readers will want to read above all other novels with the same theme. Does that make sense?
For example, a couple of months ago I blogged that we had received numerous queries about a main protagonist winning the lottery. People read into that statement by thinking that our agency would never be interested in any story if the lottery theme were present. I just want to say that wouldn’t be true.
That theme IN AND OF ITSELF wasn’t enough to capture our interest because it had been done and done again. However, a lottery theme coupled with some other interesting and original element could potentially capture our attention.
There’s a big difference. So don’t assume, after I share this list, that we would never take on a story with one of these themes. We would. I’m just sharing that the theme alone won’t sell us on reading sample pages.
Overdone Themes In Women’s Fiction
1. 40-something woman discovers her husband is cheating with younger woman and decides to divorce and remake her life
2. Trying too much to be like THE JOY LUCK CLUB – 4 women, who are friends, and we “discover” how they are dealing with the various issues in their lives.
3. Breast cancer – a woman who finds out she has it
4. A heroine in her 40s or 50s who wants to remake herself and does so by moving, or starting a new career, or having plastic surgery, and the impact of that on family
5. A heroine who finds out she is adopted and goes on a hunt to find her birth parents
6. A heroine who wants some sort of change in life and goes about remodeling a house (sometimes with her husband and sometimes alone). Usually if this is done alone it’s because her husband has just passed away.
7. A heroine who is invited to her high school class reunion and the emotional upheaval that creates. Sometimes it revolves around an old boyfriend or crush, and sometimes it’s just the simple dealing-with-aging-and-time.