Tuesday, 20 November 2012

It's all been done before

Okay, so today's post is about something that I used to worry about an awful lot: originality. Because you want your novel to stand out, don't you? So I thought, what's a story idea that nobody else has used, that will give me a really original premise for my plot? The answer, as I later learned, is there isn't one. I'll explain.

Right, first, an exercise in thinking up ideas. So, what's the most original idea you can come up with, that you would actually want to write (Comments, guys)? I'll give you some of my scrapped ones. A civilisation of flying people, that the world at large doesn't know about. A story set in the future where an assassin refuses to kill a child. A nerdy teenager who is really a vampire and uses his powers for good during the night. Sounding alright? Well, let's think about this further.

None of these projects got off the ground, mostly because I was lazy. But anyway, how original are these ideas? When you think about it, my flying people idea was simply an isolated minority that the world at large doesn't know about. Not so original now, is it? An assassin refusing to do their duty is pretty unoriginal too. And my vampire one, which I never got past planning, features him accidentally biting a girl and subsequently teaching her how to save the world at night.

You got the idea? Let's say you choose a plotline like, an elephant and a giraffe run away from the zoo. That's pretty boring, isn't it? The zoo thing sounds a little too much like Madagascar to me. So, you flesh it out, and you end up with a blind purple elephant befriends a giraffe and they run away from the circus. That's better, right? But would you really wan't to write it?

Okay, so my point is this. Everything's been done before, but that doesn't mean you can't put your own spin on it. Don't think too much about the central idea, just let the words flow. What comes out will be uniquely you, because your novel will be the sum of your ideas and experiences. If what you're doing sounds a bit too much like what someone else did, don't worry about it. Unless you're copying them word for word, you'll end up with something different. And if you're still worried, add a plot development which moves it in a completely different direction. Remember, nothing's set in stone.

And if you do end up writing a vampire romance, at least make sure it's better than Twilight. After all, my blind purple elephant was a better plot than that drivel (apologies to Twi-hards, but you have to admit that her ideas weren't very complex... or maybe you don't).

Until next time, happy writing!

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