IWSG 44: Making My Writing Stand Out

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.


OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Co-Hosts: Tyrean Martinson | The Cynical Sailor | Megan Morgan | Rachna Chhabria | Jennifer Lane.

My plan includes writing and submitting. I don’t have the nerve or experience to self-publish. I prefer getting someone else to front the bill for the editing, cover art and promotion. Although I offer my help—I don’t have expertise to do the job alone.

I know how to put a story together and that’s hard enough.

A lot of my writing has become methodical. I run through several story ideas until I can put one down in an outline. Then I peruse it and ask myself what makes this different or better than everything else out there.

I’ve read that most queries need to address what makes the pitched story stand out.

I don’t like to move forward until I’m sure the project has got something special or different (in my eyes anyway) and have been doing cross genre work: sci-fi mystery and my latest—magical-realism mystery.

My magical realism mystery is still in the outline stage and will be much more graphic than I usually write. My heroine is ferocious, passionate, too hard-headed and stubborn. At first I was going to make her psychic, but I gave her grandfather the ability instead. His love interest is a fairy that keeps offering talismans and henna tatts to my hero. Who knows if they’ll help, but it does make her feel more accepted into the family.

What makes this one special? A world where monsters might be good guys (or bad) and the person set on protecting the world from them isn’t stable enough to get the difference and sees himself as Dean Winchester saving the world one monster at a time. He helps my hero look for her lost lover. Hence the violence.

What do you do to make your story stand out? Any tips for us.


108 responses to “IWSG 44: Making My Writing Stand Out

  1. That’s quite the assortment of elements in one story. I think it makes it stand out.

  2. Happy New Year!
    From the sound of things it already stands out. It also sounds like the ‘protector’s ‘ on the charges he’s supposed to protect would eventually become a source of contention between the two. If she could differentiate between good and bad monsters and befriends a few of them. While he can’t. Is there a reason why?

    • He thinks the core of the monsters they are all the same. Some of them only appear okay, but he’s convinced they all need to be put down. He’s why her lover is missing.

  3. Sounds like a great story. I’d have to think about what I do.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  4. Super story idea. Tagline has got to be “saving the world one monster at a time.” At the time I envisioned my cozy mystery, Dangerous Sanctuary, having a female minister as a protagonist would be different. Nowadays there are lots of women in ministry. Turns out readers liked having a pig and kangaroo in the story. Now that was different and fun to write. I think having fun while writing is the secret to making a good story for readers. Best wishes on your writing project.
    JQ Rose

  5. I like your process. I know from following you that you’re always busy.

    A personal thank you for reminding me that #IWSG is 1/3. I planned to be dark until January 8th but hoped I wouldn’t forget this post. Thanks to you, I won’t!

  6. Follow your instincts with your new story. Write it as if you were telling it to an audience who likes story elements you do but then add a twist. 🙂 Great post.

  7. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    Good luck with your story! It sounds like it crosses multiple genres, so that should make it unique.

  8. Wow, that sounds like a cool story! I don’t think I try to stand out from the pack necessarily, but I know that I have my perspective and my experiences and they color whatever it is I write.

  9. Sounds like an interesting story premise. Thanks for the post, and happy writing to you. Good luck with the query process, too. 🙂

  10. Talismans and henna tatts – I love it! I’m writing historical mystery, so yes, something special is needed, because there is so much of it. I’m trying to incorporate important social issues, so that the “historical” part is more than just window dressing.

  11. Hmmm…What do I do to make my story stand out…I try to incorporate subject matter that people are only just becoming aware of, so it’s still new by the time I publish. http://www.raimeygallant.com

  12. Sounds like you have your plot. Good luck with all your goals. Tips? I’m still learning, but Denise Covey has some great ideas!

  13. This sounds really interesting. I always like stories where appearances are deceiving and love magical realism. I agree that having your story be unique is important.

  14. That sounds like an intriguing story! You have a lot figured out already in the outline. Filling in “the blanks” now, seems like a fun project. Enjoy and happy New Year, Anna!

  15. The magical realism stories I’ve read were quite enjoyable. And I like the sound of your main character. I love tough women who have a mind of their own! You have me very curious:)

  16. Love the story idea 🙂 Happy writing.

  17. Oh, that sounds really interesting. Love the idea that the monsters can be the good guys.

  18. Wow Anna! I can’t wait! Your new outline sounds amazing. Good luck with all your writing endeavors this week 🙂

  19. Angela Wooldridge

    Ooh, that sounds fab! Look forward to it 🙂

  20. I find it hard to define what makes a story stand out for me. Sometimes I think it’s just unnameable, almost magical, like everything – voice, style, characters, etc – come together in just the right way, at just the right time. 🙂

  21. That sound great, writing and submitting and waiting for the right publisher to bite with a contract. Let’s hope for each other that this is our year for contracts.
    Wishing you all the best in 2018.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

  22. Very well recall the angst of working hard (and chomping lips) to get that pitch just right. After going through 3 publishers, I knew self-publishing was right for me. While you do learn from being signed with a house, there is nothing as liberating as forging ahead on your own. It’s not for everyone, though. I mean, really…who’d take the chance of signing up a contract for someone named I.B. Nosey?????

  23. Hmmm…. seems like learning out to submit and pitch properly would be just as hard to learn as learning how to self-publish, at least for me. It’s hard to describe what makes a story stand out. I think it’s more than just the story itself, it’s also the way it’s told, in my opinion.

  24. Sounds like you’ve figured out how to craft stories that stand out. Good luck with getting them to publishers and into reader’s hands.

  25. Love the story idea. I especially like it when you’re not sure who is the good guy and who is the bad. Leaves me guessing. I also like having a publisher for the same reasons. Plus, I love my editor! Best to you in 2018.

  26. I think what makes a story stand out isn’t the ideas (there’s nothing new under the sun really) but how you present the characters–characters that your audience can really identify with and that speak to something deeper about the human condition are always remarkable.

    IWSG post: Taking Chances

  27. I’m thinking of taking that self publishing leap, but you are so right about the difficulty. I’m not a marketer, don’t want to be, but I really want to try, see if I have it in me, learn something new. Best of luck to you.

  28. I think what stands out to me the most is voice. If the characters have an interesting voice, consider me hooked. Best of luck with your goals. I think the monster story sounds good, and my kind of story.

  29. Your question about standing out touches deeply my insecurity as a writer. I hear from readers that my voice is special, my character, my dialogue. I’ll just have to trust that it’s true. I worry that there’s not enough action, but car chases and explosions just don’t fit into my cozy mysteries and romance tales. As for traditional publishing–I think I’m with you about the benefits. I’ve been offered my first contract by a small publisher and am tempted to accept for those reasons. We’ll see. May 2018 bring you clarity, peace, and lots of writing time.

  30. Sounds like you’re onto a great story line!! Making our stories stand out isn’t easy – and finding our own tricks is tough 🙂

  31. I like your magic realism idea – seems very intriguing. Should be a great story, when it is done.

  32. I love magical realism. And your story does sounds unique and amazing. Wishing you much success in 2018!!!

  33. Self-publishing is tough. I’ve only self-published a short story, and I’m helping my mom to self-publish her children’s books, but that’s it for me. lol For now anyway. 😉

    Your magical-realism mystery sounds right up my alley.

  34. Best wishes in querying! Your story sounds fun and unique!

  35. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Magical realism mystery ~ Wow! That sounds like fun! All the best with your writing plans this year, Anna~

  36. Sounds like a great story! And, yes, it already stands out. I like the idea of a person who sees the world in moral black and white having to learn shades of gray. A good growth curve for a character. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  37. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Best of luck with your writing goals. I like your ideas and hope they take off.

  38. It’s interesting to think about what makes a story stand out in the marketplace. Good luck with the story!

  39. I like your story idea! Trouble with mine is… I’m not sure what makes it stand out 😦 Have to figure that part out… good luck to you!

  40. Ooo a Dean Winchester type hunter…nice!

  41. Ooh, I love your story! Keep us posted on how this goes.

  42. Hi, I’m with you on writing and submitting, that is the only thing that will get us closer to our goals.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna’s Scriptorium

  43. You do a great job of crafting the story. I would also be daunted by self-publishing. If the time ever comes, I’ll look for a small publisher.
    Happy writing and reading in 2018!
    Mary at Play off the Page

  44. I love the sound of your magical realism mystery, sounds fascinating!
    How do I make my stories stand out? So far I write nonfiction and to make them stand out I write like I’m writing fiction.
    My favorite comments about my work are, “I can’t believe this really happened. ”
    Happy New Year to you!

  45. I’ve been doing the Traditional Pub vs. Self Pub battle for a couple of years now. I LOVE the idea of the traditional publisher but I also like the idea of holding ALL the rights and creative say-so of Self Publishing. Still, like you, I don’t feel I have the expertise or the energy to do everything that’s necessary for self publishing. Especially the marketing! Writing is exhausting work and I’m terrible at marketing.

    Query letters terrify me. I finished a novel in December and I need to do some serious editing. Then, knowing I have to get someone interested in it by sending them three paragraphs makes me a little annoyed. It’s an art form to be sure and I’m not sure if I’ve got what it takes to write a query! I know I can write a novel but those few paragraphs scare me. Kind of funny, really.

    Best of luck in 2018! Happy New Year,

  46. Ooo, that story idea sounds awesome! Happy New Year!

  47. Great premise! Sounds like my sort of book. 🙂 I’m still looking for that trick to making a book stand out. It’s tough. Please do share any tips you learn.

  48. Wow that sounds really interesting, a fairy BF who offers her talismans and henna tattoos. Very not-quite-right magic realism-like. You’re making me curious! Good luck with it.

  49. Wow, I love the sound of your new story! I just finished a magical realism story that I LOVED, and I thought how I wanted to look for more in this genre. I will look forward to checking yours out in the future. Good luck with the story!

  50. I let my characters take the lead, which sounds pretty simple, but it’s not always easy to do. I’ll get scared about where the story is going, or how it’s going to end, and freaked out that my process is so different. But if I keep the faith, and just keep letting the characters tell the story, it always works out.

    Good luck with your writing goals! The new story certainly sounds unique.

  51. That’s a tricky question. I try to write the best story I can, but like you I filter ideas, discarding any that seem like stuff already out there. It’s got to give you that buzz of being different and exciting. Yours definitely sounds intriguing – especially the monsters that might be good. And good luck with submissions this year!

  52. I think it’s a smart and vital move to make sure that a project has something special or different… and a fairy that keeps offering talismans and henna tattoos to your hero sounds quite refreshing, so you’re onto something.
    Traditional pub vs. self pub? At the moment, I’m still not sure which direction I’m heading.
    I’ll just keep on writing/editing/polishing.
    Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.
    Happy Writing, Anna! 🙂

    • Only way to improve is getting in there and doing the work. What occurs to me is that I’m not the only one up to my elbows. No doubt there are millions of skilled writers out the doing the same thing.

  53. Thanks so much for the link! I’ll definitely check them out 🙂 Have a great weekend!

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