I’ve been watching the Neil Gaiman Masterclass lately and he had the simplest, but oh so good, piece of advice. He suggested taking a common cliché and just turn it a little bit to make it different.
In his short story “October Tale”, he wrote about a genie and the woman who rubs the lamp. Rather than following the common beliefs about genies and the three wishes, he asks the big what if, as in what if the person who got the wishes doesn’t need them. It’s such a cute story and adds a completely original twist to a fairly commonplace story.
For me this advice was huge. I’ve been struggling with my book’s second draft because I felt like I was following too many tropes. By turning things just a little bit here and there my entire story is blossoming in a fresh and exciting direction.