What sets your novel apart?

Having recently a conference, I have been doing a lot of thinking about how a novel needs to stand apart from others in its genre. It is really unsettling, when you read a book and realize that it has such similar elements to something you have been slaving over for a few years and showing to only your writing group. But that’s how it goes. Ideas tend to trend, or so it seems.

So, I made a list of some books I’ve read in the past years or two that had something that set them apart, in hopes that I will find something in my novel that is not in theirs and be surprised I do have something, or perhaps brainstorm some ideas, not like theirs, from see what others have done.

Not in order of reading or release – all somewhat in my genre – some closer than others:

      • Her Fearful Symmetry – Audry Niffenegger – told from the ghost’s perspectiveHorns – Joe Hill – the devil is the hero – a familiar character in a new way
      • The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters – the end has a twist – don’t want to give it away
      • The Lace Reader – Brunonia Barry – the end also has a twist – a psychological one – similar, but different that The Little Stranger – in both – what you think is happening all along is not what is happening. I think it is masterful when an author can trick the reader.
      • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – Katherine Howe – historical narrative interlaced with a contemporary story
      • The Dead Path – Stephen M. Irwin – a fairy tale witch in a thriller style narrative
      • The Tooth Fairy – Graham Joyce – uses a familiar character in a completely new way

    That’s only some – I know there are more – and I would love to hear about books you have read that have something that sets them apart. WIP.

    It is daunting and intimidating to set out to think of something new and original. Isn’t it true that there is nothing new under the sun. I think those authors who have snatched up surprise should be applauded. A MS one has started at for too long, looks like old socks after a while, and I know that is why distance is important. But sometimes, if you look again, you just might find there is something unexpected in there. If not, you too might consider what isn’t out there and how you can bridge the gap.

2 thoughts on “What sets your novel apart?

  1. What sets me apart is no sex. I write single title Regency romance and in every one I've ever read, they're loaded with sex. Mine are loaded with sexual tension and an underlying mystery or two. What's going to happen next? I like to keep the reader guessing.

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