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I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

But it already exists! 🙀

Published 10 months ago • 4 min read

KAT VANCIL

THE STORYTELLER'S SAGA

QUEST 37

Tell me if this sounds familiar, Reader?

“I can’t write this story, it’s too similar to [insert popular book/series]. Whatever will I do? Everything’s already been written.”

The thing is, this imaginary storyteller—or not-so-imaginary one—is focusing on the wrong thing. They shouldn’t focus on how their story is the same as everything that already exists. But instead on how it differs.

When sitting down to create a new story—or fretting over one you’ve already written—ask yourself if you’ve done any of these:

Changing Perspective

Did you take a classic story but shift the perspective to a side character or even someone entirely fabricated?

The movie Rosaline is Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” but from the perspective of a character that never actually appears in the play itself. She’s mentioned, sure, but she never actually sets foot on stage during the course of the tragedy and the movie itself is a comedy.

Another example is The Great Mouse Detective movie based on the children’s book series Basil of Baker Street which is, of course, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books.

In The Great Mouse Detective, the mouse detective Basil, along with the aid of David Q. Dawson, a retired army surgeon, must thwart the plans of the criminal mastermind Professor Ratigan.

New Representation

Does your story take a classic story, genre tropes, or a popular setting but infuse it with underrepresented peoples?

Are your Legendary Characters Neurodivergent, queer, people of color, or Pacific Islander?

There have been several fantastic recastings, retellings, and reimaginings of older stories recently that showcase a greater diversity of persons.

From Self-Made Boys to Persuasion (2022) to Catherine, Called Birdie more publishers and films are expanding the inclusive representation they offer in their creative works, and you can too.

Are you from an underrepresented group? Then now’s an excellent time to add your voice into the world.

Swapping an Element or Changing the Setting

Are you swapping out or switching up an element or setting that sets your story apart from the others? Maybe something that would shift it into another genre?

My Hero Academia is essentially a magical school anime/manga but with super-powered individuals instead of wizards/mages/sorcerers/witches. It even follows a similar format to a lot of the popular stories out there.

  • In these stories, the Legendary Character either comes from a single-parent home, is an orphan, or is in some way estranged from their family.
  • They have little or no magic or their magic has been suppressed until this point in the story.
  • They’re bullied or somehow an outcast for some reason (usually before going to school, but sometimes at the school as well).
  • They somehow suddenly unlock awesome magical powers that make them supremely powerful but they still remain humble.

There are dozens of these stories out there but they each have something unique to offer, so none come off as a cookie cutter of the one beside it.

Here’s another unique example as a case study:

My most favorite musical is an imaginative Caribbean-set retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid called Once on This Island.

In Once on This Island, 4 gods make a bet over the life of one orphan girl as to which is more powerful, love or death. Ultimately they get their answer—love—but in the process, they end up getting her killed. They do feel sorta shitty about it so they turn her into a…

Tree?

It’s an absolutely brilliant story that tackles the themes of love and sacrifice, as well as racism and imperial colonialism. And no one in their right mind would ever call it a cheap knock-off of The Little Mermaid.

(I had the opportunity to be in this award-winning musical in the summer of 1997. And apparently, Disney+ is in the process of adapting it for film.)

So the important thing to remember, Reader, is that we as storytellers aren’t required to create entirely new ideas. All we truly need to do is express familiar themes in uniquely creative ways.

Just like the works I mentioned here today.

Well, I better get back to these final edits on Predestined which releases this fall, Reader. Hope you have a wonderfully creative week!

Your cohort in storytelling,

Kat Vancil

🐱

PS 👉 Fun Fact: Speaking of The Little Mermaid, did you know Hans Christian Andersen sent the original story to his friend Edvard Collin as an engagement present and wrote in a letter to him:

"I languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench…my sentiments for you are those of a woman. The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery."

It was after learning that Andersen had an unrequited love for his male bestie that I wrote my Boys Love Little Mermaid mashup in 2021.

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I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

Here to help you vanquish those story construction obstacles, slay that imposter syndrome clawing at the back of your brain & stomp boredom flat with heart-pounding Boys Love fiction. Join the Saga and choose your inbox obsession, whether it’s helpful advice to get your writing unstuck or an episode of my weekly Boys Love Fantasy series to devour during your coffee break.

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