“All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hmmm. What do I write? I have nothing to write. Everything has already been said. Every story has been told. Every new character has been created. There is not a romance or a mystery that hasn't been recounted. Every writer, at some point in her career, has tapped her pencil in time to the steady beat of her thoughts of doubt and insecurity that all the good stories have already been told.
After all, we know that the wheel can't be reinvented. And that is true; the wheel has already been invented but the type of wheel and the color of the wheel and the purpose of the wheel is entirely up to you. No writer will be able to write the first romance or mystery or work of Literary Fiction but every writer can write her story of romance or mystery in a way that no one else can.
Keep in mind that every person has a story to tell yet not everyone's story has been told so mathematically that means there are still plenty of tales to tell. The question is how? How do you write a plot that is original? How do you create characters who are unique?
Constructing a new and original plot shouldn't be a writer's focus because frankly, everyone has heard all the basic story lines. Girl meets boy and falls in love. Detective follows clues and solves the case. Plots are like places. No one is going to "discover" Chicago or Hawaii. However, the roads taken and the mode of transportation and the stops made along the way can always be different and completely one's own. So write the romance or the mystery but create new turns and twists, chart a journey that takes the reader to the destination in a whole new way.
The most significant way to make a story different from any other is to create characters who are unique. And the way to do that is by making them real since real people are individuals by nature. After all, it was Fred Rogers who taught us that everyone is special in his/her own way. So how do you make characters feel like real people? You write them with a depth of emotion, distinctive characteristics and detailed description. You make them multi-dimensional and multi-layered. A well-written character is believable. And a believable character is one who is flawed, authentic, and relatable on some level. Most importantly, your readers must feel for your characters, regardless the emotion.
So remember, you may not have invented the wheel but you can always color the wheel any way you want. Every writer has her own voice, you just need to find it and then use it. And when you do, you will have a story that truly has never been told.