On Originality

by Nicole Trilivas

When I’m coming up with concept for a book, the desire to be original can be paralyzing. I want so desperately to write a story that no one has ever heard before; something wholeheartedly unexpected, and new, and without comparison. For a long time, this thought acted like a boulder in my way: there was no way around it.

But eventually I learned that it was okay to use plot devices that others had used before you. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You can draw on other stories. You can ask yourself, “What would happen if this were a movie?” or “How would [insert inspirational writer here] handle it?”


In my latest book, I draw on classic fairy tales; it is my clay to work with. I like the challenge of morphing the half-ridiculous fairy tale situations (children left in the woods; wolfs in grandmother’s clothing) into believable plot devices. We all need something to work with. We’re not magicians. We’re writers, right?

XO Nicole