Publishers and agents tell writers they want something fresh, unique, yet they also like whatever trend is selling. Coming up with new fiction can boggle the mind. We want it to be a hit with readers everywhere. Sometimes we try too hard and over-think a story when a little creative brainstorming will do.
My church choir really captured the audience's attention last Sunday. We performed a familiar hymn text to an unexpected tune. The congregation expected one thing, but got another, making them instantly pay attention. It wasn't an elaborate change; no one was jarred to the point where they couldn't accept what we planned. It was more of a pleasant surprise. To keep their interest, the choir varied the verses with things like unison or part-singing. The audience wanted to keep listening to find out what would happen next.
This is what we want to do for our readers. We want to capture their attention right off with something unexpected but not too jarring. The unexpected can be a unique event, setting, or character, for example. Perhaps Nichole Giles will start a new trend with a main character who transforms into a mermaid in her book Water So Deep, coming out soon. Keep your readers' interest with a twist, raising the stakes, conflicts, etc.
I've heard it said that there are only about seven story themes and every book is some variation of them. Many stories tie a character from the past to the present. I enjoyed Jo Noelle's fresh take on this idea in Years & an Ocean. I should start making a list, when I read, of things that catch my attention, surprise me, or specifically what kept my interest.
Write a story that you love. Add some fresh surprises and others will love it too.