So you can't write an original plot. You can't write original characters - someone else has already been there. Recognise any of these embarrassing things?
- A man whom one loves gets drunk and keep repeating himself.
- Parents, convinced that their ugly child is adorable, pet him and repeat the things he has said, imitating his voice.
- In the presence of a skilled musician, someone plays a zither just for his own pleasure and without tuning it.
- A man recites his own poems (not especially good ones) and tells one about the praise they have received.
- To have spoken about someone not knowing that he could overhear.
They're all taken from The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, written over 1000 years ago in the court of the Heian dynasty in 10th century Japan. It's about as far away from us as it's possible to be, but we recognise it. There are no new characters, no new observations.
But. Yesterday I wrote: No one else can write a Sarah Duncan novel. What you can do that is new and fresh is write your take on the world. No one will have ever done that before. Write with authenticity and your writing will be unique. Write from the heart - it's the only way.