Monday, November 9

What's Different?

Yesterday for my Anthropology class, we went to the zoo. It was a lot of fun. I quite enjoyed having my professor there, telling us weird but interesting facts about all the primates we came across. She used many terms that had me going, "huh?" with big bug eyes. But that's okay, I still had fun.

While we were there, we were given a task. For 30 minutes, we had to pick a primate and watch it while writing down anything they were doing. At the end we also had to write the primate's type, gender, sex, and rank. For example:

12:00 - "Big Mama is scratching her back with right hand. Just ate whatever she found."
12:02 - "Big Mama appears to be sleeping while her baby grooms her."

This observation is worth 10 marks towards our term paper, which is worth 20 overall. Easy, huh? That's 50% right there for doing it. And yet, some people didn't do it, or didn't go to the zoo. I don't get it. Anyway, for the rest of the term paper, we have to pick a primate (can be the type you just spent the last 30 minutes freezing your butt off to observe) and write about how the zoo is, or isn't meeting that animal's specific needs.

Now, when picking my primate, I had several different thoughts:

1. It had to be cute, which did not narrow it down, because they are all cute... except Howler Monkey's (poor guys, they are ugly as Sin and sound even worse).

2. They had to be interesting to me. What made them different from the other monkey's I could pick?

3. What were my classmates going to pick? I don't want to pick what they're going to pick. For one, how could I quietly observe the animal if there are 50 other people crowding around? And two, I want to be different.

So, I picked the Japanese Macaque, better known as Snow Monkey's. I think they are cute, have really interesting behaviours, and best of all, only 3 other people were studying them. Yay!

However, this got me thinking. As writers, we want our stories to be "cute." In other words, we want them to appeal to people on the surface. But we also want them to be interesting and enthralling to our readers, right? And in the end, we also want our stories to be different from any other story out there. Sure, the plot may be similar, but that's bound to happen. What we really want is for our story to have pizzazz and punch to it. We want our story to stick out in a reader's mind long after they've finished it.


So my question for you is: What is it about your story that makes it so interesting to readers? What's different about it?
*Btw, in the picture, the Macaque is resting in a hot spring. In the winter they love doing this. It's just like a hot-tub!*

8 comments:

  1. Great pic and analogy. I hope what makes my story stand out is my voice.

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  2. Not a huge primate fan, unless you count the cute little marmosets and tamarins. The Japanese Macaque is funny when it's hot-tubbing, though. =o)

    This current WIP is different because I took an old myth and put a new slant on it. We'll see if the agents think it's new once I start querying. I like to think my other stories are different because I tried to take a different slant on things people usually take for granted as 'the truth'. Maybe it made them too different. :shrug:

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  3. I really hope that my characters stand out. I've tried to make them unique individuals, so I hope any future readers will love them as much as I do.

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  4. I love going to the zoo. I think I like it even more than my kids. Animals are almost as fun to watch as people. Not sure what to say about my WIP. It's got some fairly standard SF elements to it, but I hope the characters and their own unique situation would make it stand out.

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  5. Great analogy and great question. My brain is toasty from too much NaNoReVismo, but definitely something to think about.

    I'm off to the zoo tomorrow. :)

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  6. I majored in Anthropology and almost went on to play with dead people all my life. But I didn't. :)

    And my favorite primate is the Japanese macaque. They're just so cute, especially chilling in the hot springs. And smart too! They learned how to use vending machines at one spot in Japan, all so they could get to sodas. There's a monkey for me!

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  7. Are these the monkeys that live in freezing areas and go to really really hot water to warm up? i love them! =)
    I loved the conclusion you arrived, about your writing being exceptional due to something... I'd have to say thatm for I don't write that much, I don't know what makes my writing remarkable, but I promise to write more these holidays and find out!
    Cool post, I'm adding you to my faves. Check out my blog! =)

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  8. Roni- Thank you! Oh, that's a good one. I didn't think of that when I thought of potential answers! Voice is so important. I've read many books where I found the author lacked a voice. It ruined the story for me.

    B.E.- lol, I love monkeys. I think they are just adorable. And yeah, the Macaques are very cute when they are hot-tubbing. My parents and I agree, they should put one in at our zoo for them.

    I'm sure the stories aren't too different. Even if they are, as long as you wrote it well (which I'm sure you did), everything will be fine =] And as a reader, I love reading stories with a twist on something "common".

    Melane- That's a good one! Characters should pop out of the page and should be memorable to readers. I've read fabulous stories where the characters lacked. So that's a very good thing to work on =] And I'm sure we will love them as much as you =P

    Angie- Me too! My parents and I always used to go-- to the point where the keepers knew us and let us behind the scenes! I agree. Animals have such vivid personalities that I think most people overlook. And that's a good point to be different on. A lot of stories can be similar, but the characters (in my opinion) are really what make it good.

    Anissa- Hello! Thank you =] I hope you have fun at the zoo!!

    Stephanie- LOL! This is my first anthro class but I'm enjoying it so far. I am schedule to take another one next semester. LOL! Yep, they are really smart. I enjoyed watching them and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy writing the essay too (well, as much as one can enjoy such things).

    Makita- Hello! Yep, they live in Japan (and Texas... but that's a story for later). That's a good goal! I think everyone needs to have an idea of what makes their writing so special. Aww thanks! And I will.

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