Why we all write the same story differently.
October 14, 2015
I KNEW it would happen.
I’ve believed all my life that writers never really steal from each other.
We may all steal the same idea.
But all of the stories will be different.
Our minds don’t all work alike.
Neither do our imaginations.
We sat around our critique group table and decided to test my theory.
I wrote a simple thesis for each: A stranger came to the wrong town.
The Christian cozy mystery writer had this idea.
The stranger is old and no longer mentally stable, but he has been searching for years to find the sister who ran away as a child.
Or was she kidnapped?
Had she been killed or was she still alive?
Would the pastor who runs a shelter for homeless runaways help him, or had he been the one who stole his sister so long ago.
All the stranger has is a faded newspaper clipping.
It has his sister’s name.
It has the name of the town.
The name may belong to the wrong girl.
The name may belong to the wrong town.
He may be marked for murder.
The legal thriller writer saw the story this way.
The stranger has come to town as a street preacher.
But is he a man of God? Or is he trying to escape the wrath of God.
Why does the street preacher need a satchel full of guns?
Why has he buried them beneath the house?
And could he be the mystery man who, ten years ago, murdered the mayor and two members of the town council.
On the street, he preaches long and hard about hellfire and damnation.
He never mentions forgiveness.
He never mentions redemption.
When the sheriff arrests him, the attorney assigned to represent the stranger is the town drunk.
Why is the lawyer trying to drown his past in a bottle of whiskey?
And what does he know about the street preacher that no one else in town even suspects?
The romance writer knew she was the only one who understood the stranger.
He is home from war.
He has fought too much.
He has seen too much.
The horrors of the war are his nightmares when he can’t sleep, and he hardly ever sleeps.
His parents have died.
The girl he loved has married another.
He is a man alone.
He decides to sell his home and meets with a beautiful real estate agent.
She’s new in town.
She’s desperately trying to build a business.
But why is she so uneasy?
Why does she keep looking over her shoulder?
Is she on the run?
Who is she running rom?
What secrets scar her past?
Only love can save them.
Love is their only chance of redemption.
Will either of them ever trust love again?
The thriller writer jumps in both guns blazing.
The stranger is only passing through.
He stops at a downtown café for dinner.
The waitress is friendly.
She laughs a lot.
She lifts the cloud of despair that hangs above his head.
It’s too late to move on, so he takes a room at the motel on the edge of town.
During the night, the waitress is murdered.
He spends time with the ambulance driver who removed the body.
During the night, the ambulance driver is murdered.
The stranger becomes a pariah.
Everyone he talks to is murdered?
Who is he?
Why does he know so much about the law?
Who is after him?
Or is he the killer?
He can only prove his innocence if the real murderer is found.
So there you have it.
No two are alike.
Take a look at the simple statement: A stranger came to the wrong town.
How would you write the story?