Wednesday, 22 March 2017

11 Things I Learned in Malta about Writing – 3 Be Creative

On a 2014 holiday in Malta I saw many things that could help me with my writing. I will be sharing one each week. Sorry I missed a week, I was struck down by a virus. Here is point 3 I learned:

Be creative

Although the buildings are the same colours, and all have flat roofs, every building is different. Some architectural details, especially in the balconies, make each building unique in its area.

Don’t use the same old plots. There are only supposed to be a small number of unique plots, but the books that succeed are creative and find a new twist. Adapt a plot from a different genre, do something unexpected. That way your story will stand out from the crowd.

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Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, the end. No, really? What could you do to change it? Boy loses girl, boy finds a better one? Boy gets girl back and finds they don’t get on?

Don’t use the limited number of plots to excuse poor writing. The Harry Potter books were a basic boarding school story, but by mixing it with wizards and a really bad villain, it grabbed the imagination of millions of people of all ages.

In my second Flight of the Kestrel book Secrets, some of the crew are sent to investigate rumours of a secret weapon. The mission fails and they escape, taking with them a badly injured man who shared their prison cell. They later find out that he is the secret weapon.

Your initial idea for a story may be fairly simple, but as you develop it, look for ways to give it a twist and do something different. One of the questions you need to answer when you think about pitching your novel to an agent or publisher, or direct to readers if you self publish, is ‘What makes your book stand out from the rest?’ Bear that in mind while you’re writing it.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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