7 10 2010

“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”
-Paul Rand, graphic designer

Many times while walking through Publix or Wal*Mart I find myself wondering if my characters, storylines, or themes have been done one too many times.  (Strangely, I seem to think about the originality of my stories while walking through stores quite often.)  As time goes on, I remind myself more and more that there is little to none originality left anyways.  We build new ideas on old concepts.

Does that mean we should stop writing, creating, for fear of sounding too cliché?  Heck no!

“No Luke, I am your father!”

Take any book, movie, or otherwise story and I can guarantee you’ll be able to place it into at least one category.  Even two movies that seem to be in two completely different genres might have the same structure of story.  Take, for instance, this year’s successful hit from Christopher Nolan, Inception.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays a dream-theif who dares one last, risky job with hopes that it will pay his way back home to family.  Now take Heat, or Ocean’s Eleven, both which also feature one last, big job.

Harry Potter, a record-breaking, successful series of books you probably haven’t heard of, with a simple, time-tested and very popular formula:  protagonist is taken away from parents/home land and comes to a special place/mentor to receive special weapon/tool and harness special power/talent, eventually returning to defeat some big bad dude.  How many times have we heard that?  Tarzan, Star Wars, The Lion King.  We can trace this kind of story all the way back throughout the folklores and mythologies of many lands:  King Arthur, Hercules, Perseus, Makoma.  File these under this safe but sure label:  Epic.

“Originality is the art of concealing your sources.”
-Ben Franklin

A fellow artist, Eugene Delacroix, said it best:  “What moves those of genius, what inspires their work is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.”

So what if you’re telling a story that sounds familiar?  Take heart knowing that you’re crafting a story that mirrors works we’ve all come to know and love.  Learn from the greats, and tell us your version of them.  Our experiences and circumstances allow us all a different position in life; no one can tell the exact same story like you can.

And that, amici mei, is where your originality will reveal itself.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: