2nd Circle Thinking

Before I begin, I want everyone to do a writing exercise with me. You’ll need a scrap piece of paper, a writing utensil and a timer. Gather your supplies, get pen in hand and set the time for 20 seconds.

Draw a bird.

Did you do it?

And more importantly, what kind of bird did you draw? Is it a small forest bird, such as a sparrow or a robin? Where’s my beach lover and their seagull? The city dweller that made a pigeon? Raise your hand if you were that guy and sketched a hawk?

Now, here’s the lesson: why didn’t you draw an ostrich or a crane or the Loddigesia mirabilis?

Those are all birds but the common person doesn’t think of them as birds at first. Instead, the average schmuck on the street thinks of the birds they see every day, and it isn’t until they stop and think that people consider some of the more unusual birds.

The robin, sparrow, seagull, etc. Those are first circle answers, the answer everyone guesses. But an emu or a swamp bird, that’s second circle thinking. Second circle thinking is how you stand out in the crowd of millions.

This is an important fact for writers to remember when crafting a story because it’s an uphill battle to be original. It’s easy to fall into those tropes of the nerdy kid seeking vengeance on the jocks who bullied him or the warrior woman who falls in love with a kind-hearted guitar player.

I’ll be the first to admit it; I love those predictable trope-filled stories when I know the ending before I even start reading. Many of my nights have ended with me in bed, snuggled in with a thick blanket and a kitty held close as I finish yet another story set in high school.

But here’s the kicker: I don’t remember those stories. Couldn’t tell you a character’s name if you paid me. Because those stories are kind of pointless – they’re a guilty pleasure at best. And when I get bored of reading them, I seek out the fun, unexpected stories. The kind of stories that I recommend to friends, stories I summarize on my weekly walks with my sister to share that emotional response I had.

The kind of stories that get published.


~This post was written by Editor Joe


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