RJ made a really good point yesterday when she said that it’s important to put a new spin on common trends in order to present something fresh to readers. It’s easy to say we should just avoid tropes that we’ve seen over and over again, but I prefer to keep an open mind and leave all options on the table. After all, every story has been done a million times anyway, so to discount any component solely because the market is crawling with similar ones is not exactly productive.
This is why I love all the genre merging going on right now. You can sit down with the spark of a new story and take it just about anywhere. Want to write a paranormal ghost story? Make it a fast-paced political thriller. Dying to take on a werewolf novel? Maybe it takes place in outer space. Like Dragons? Combine them into a weird west tale. Sure, some of these are a little off the wall and may never work as a novel, but a new twist is worth exploring.
And now I can't control it; my mind starts reeling with literary flights of fancy. A coming-of-age horror story. A dystopian romantic comedy. Time-traveling celebrity gossip reporters sucked into a historical murder-mystery. The possibilities are practically endless and the results are so much more fun than formulaic genre fiction. Some of these have been done before, but at least they don't feel clichéd or uninteresting. Combined with solid writing, even quirky ideas can appeal to a broad audience. How many people probably thought Brian Jacques was crazy when he said he was penning an epic fantasy about rodents?
Despite what the title of this post indicates, I don't necessarily believe every story has to be wildly innovative. All I'm saying is that we may not need to ignore the standards, but we should do what we can to improve on them. That's part of the fun of being a writer. When we build our worlds, we get to ask the big 'What if?' It can't hurt to follow that original notion with an enthusiastic 'Why not?'