- What you write.
- How you write it.
Note: ideally this external plot is echoed in the main character(s) internal plot arc. Think about what character can best tell this story; which character would have the most to gain or lose. I hate to use TV examples, but here I go: On the new show "Masters of Sex" the protagonist is an impotent shame-filled man who cannot seem to enjoy sex. This is the man who is studying sex. Would another character be as compelling? I think not.
How you write your story can make a rather tired plot fresh again.
In general, authors should be as specific as possible, especially for nouns. Don't refer to 'a guitar', refer to 'a Gibson SG' (or whatever is appropriate). Create a unique world. Always paint your story picture through the protagonist(s) lens. Descriptions should be from the character(s) perspective. Adjectives like 'beautiful' are relatively meaningless; how is it beautiful to the character?
If you've noticed I'm using the words 'character' and 'protagonist' a lot here, this is no accident. A unique character can make a tired plot fresh. A little girl assassin was fresh (the first time we saw it).
Another way to impart originality in the 'how you write' vein is voice. This concept is more difficult to pin down but it is the combination of vocabulary, sentence length, paragraph length, tone, and all the other writerly tools used to create a story. I've blogged about voice before here:V is for Voice and here:Spec Fic Tools II: Voice.
Good luck creating your unique story.
In the coming weeks I'll start blogging about the new November 2013 issue. Stay tuned for that. :)