The original idea

It is said that there are only seven original plotlines that can be written, and every story out there fits into one of these. It is also said that each of us has a story in us. The only way to reconcile those two statements is to conclude that there is a lot of repetition going on out there.

But what is an original story? I don’t think it is a theme or story arc, I think it is all the facets that are brought together to make the characters breathe and the world feel really tangible.

I find it can often be the difference in the development of a character that can make one story bland when I read it, but sing to you when you discover it. If we laugh or cry, or throw the book across the room or simply keep falling asleep, it is the meat of the story, not its bones, that catch our hearts (or not).

To illustrate my point have a look at the number of different versions there are of many popular fairytales; Cinderalla, Red Riding Hood, The Three Bears.  Some are fantastic while some are horribly boring, even though they are telling the same tale. Deeper than that, some are terrifyingly dark, others laugh out loud funny, and more importantly some are great for sending little kids off to the land of nod, while others would have them so shocked they would not be able to sleep for a week! 

So don’t knock yourself out too much on looking for the original story, many would have you believe the search if fruitless Focus instead on the original delivery, find some wonderful characters, put them in beautiful well-painted worlds and find the right language to tell your story. That is where you get to really play with your craft.

One thought on “The original idea”

  1. I’ve seen the Phantom of the Opera story written in both the Discworld and the Warhammer universes and strangely both worked quite well.

    It illustrated well that storytelling trumps originality most of the time. I’d rather a well told re-telling than a poorly written original idea.

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