Unique isn't the Same as Good

One thing I love about So You Think You Can Dance is how similar the audition process is to querying a novel. It's got everything: the people who are okay but just not strong enough, the wackos who may or may not have stepped into the wrong theater, the ones who think they're awesome but aren't, the dancers who are good enough for Vegas (I'd call that a full request), and the very very few who make it all the way to the Top 20.

Much like agents, the judges say they're looking for uniqueness, something that stands out from the average dancer. Unfortunately this has resulted in folks coming in on stilts and roller skates, dressed in drag or weird unitards made by someone's mother. Yes, these are unique, and they do stand out, but not in the way the auditionees hoped.

The writing equivalent might be a query written in first person, a literary graphic novel about a man trapped in a white room, or a query about unicorn/bovine romance written in verse. Unique, maybe. But totally weird and not what most people are looking for.

So don't use gimmicks to make your work stand out. Learn the craft, get critiqued, and write the best dang novel you can. Then let it stand out for itself. Remember:

Just because you are unique does not mean you are useful.


Joshua McCune said...


(love that picture)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Awesome! And "useful" in a literary sense is a very interesting idea...(one man's fork is another's deadly weapon).

Heidi W said...

That picture is hilarious!

Aron White said...

Good point. Unique is definitely overused. It's better to focus on doing the best you can than to worry whether or not you're standing out.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I clicked through to your fake query. Very nicely done!


Keriann Greaney Martin said...

I totally agree. Unique is interesting, weird is just weird. And there seem to be A LOT of weirdos out there.

I love SYTYCD!