1. Chris Weehuizen
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    Chris Weehuizen New Member

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    How can I be original?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chris Weehuizen, Jun 19, 2012.

    Hello,

    I have a basic story outline in my head but I can't get any original ideas because of all the movies i've seen, books I've read and games I've played.
    How can I "cancel" this?
     
  2. Mr.
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    Mr. Member

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    There isn't an easy path to coming up with new ideas. One temptation to fake it--but may get you thinking in new ways--is to come up with odd combinations of settings/genres you're already familiar with. How about a pirate horror? Or an apocalyptic comedy? Or a zombie love story? A widow brings back her husband to be her undead slave, and the story's all about him regaining his memories and uncovering this information, all up to the big reveal where it turns out his death was a suicide from the guilt of having cheated on her! There's a story right there.

    Though keep in mind random doesn't mean creative, and a stereotypical story in a funky setting/genre is still only stereotypical.
     
  3. Owen8
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    Owen8 Member

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    It is difficult to come up with something original. We all read things we like and naturally gravitate toward writing those kinds of stories. But for me, at least, everything I read is not quite how I would do it. There's always some theme, or character, or setting, or idea that I would change or add or whatever. So maybe start there. Think of what you like to read, and decide how you would go about making it better. Once you do this a lot, you may find that you have common areas that you would see improved, and you get a sense of the kind of ideas that you like in a story. Then jumble it up, and write. Okay, so that may not make complete sense. But examining the types of stories that you read can yield a lot of information.

    To be honest, I think that you can't quite make something truly original, just different. Pretty much every kind of character, setting, theme, or plot has been done. It's just about combining the ones you like in interesting ways, then writing it well. Sorry to be confusing. Hope that helped.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Everyone goes through this , especially if they're going with genre writing - how can I make my vampire book original , how can I make my fantasy novel populated by elves stand out. If you are going with a particular genre it's good to recognize what's already been done and not to fall into a formula trap. Think about what novels you have liked and why you liked them. Characters will probably be high on the list.

    Being original is not necessarily coming up with an original idea - but presenting a familiar idea it in an original way.

    Creating sympathetic characters who have to make hard choices is another way to hook your reader, they'll forgive a formula story as long as your characters are believable.
    All you need is a subtle twist if the market is saturated with vampire novels and you want yours to stand out , you could avoid the cliches and opt for a
    totally original setting - vampires back in the medieval age or some similar twist.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    If all the movies you've seen are influencing you, chances are your final product won't resemble any of them too much. You wanna be original? Don't try to copy, and don't try to be completely original either. Just write the story you have in you. Then revise it. :) Odds are, your story is probably already a lot more original than you think.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're original because your characters are original. Their thoughts, philosophies, background and personal quirks are original.
     
  7. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    One thing that really helps me out when i try to be original is when i brainstorm. I think brainstorming is one of the best solutions to this problem. Well, atleast for me.
     
  8. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    To me the originality of my work is not in the plot but in my style of writing and in my "writing voice". No matter what I write people should be able to appreciate the way I have written it.
     
  9. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Alternatively nothing is original - not really, parts will always be derivative. After all we didn't invent the language itself. But why worry? Perhaps you mean, 'I don't want to write a steriotype' which is a lot easier to achieve than true originality.
     
  10. lallylello
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    lallylello Member

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    As has been said already, originality is in your take on the idea not the idea itself. And originality is not always a good thing. After all, originality brought us sparkly vampires and God knows, we don't need any more of them.
    :D
     
  11. James Birdy
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    James Birdy New Member

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    I find a good question to ask yourself to inject originality into a piece of work is 'why'.

    All of us are informed by our creative experiences, we know what we like and we want to recreate that in our work. But this is what leads to tropes and cliches. When you're doing your first draft, you'll normally rely on your instincts (which is a good thing to get that all important first draft complete). But this can make your work a bit trite. So when you're re-reading your work, ask yourself, "Why did I write it this way?" If put it under enough scrutiny you'll remember that scene from some book you read.

    Once you have become aware of the tropes you're using to tell your story, you can start work around them. Originality can come from many places, a bizarre new story, a new kind of writing style, marrying two old concepts together to produce something new. But what's more important than writing something original is writing something honest: People will recognise and appreciate interesting characters before they judge it on its originality
     
  12. thetyper
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    thetyper Member

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    Who is original? There are only seven basic plots - quest, tragedy, rebirth, rags to riches, beating the odds, voyage and return to safety, and comedy.
     
  13. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Or maybe just one. Check out the hero's journey gurus.
     
  14. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Brainstorm it.

    Write down all your ideas and follow the ones which seem more original.

    Use free association, which will fit with high concept, so like matching up Abraham Lincoln with vampires.

    The news always works for me - full of good ideas.
     
  15. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    This has been said a thousand times before, retold into each passing generation like the Hero's Journey. It is not what you write; it is how you write it. The power and passion of a piece, the fire that drives characters and advances plots, comes from within. There is no book or list that will show you how to break the mold. It is about life, character, and the tangibility of your world.

    There is a scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:

    Kirk: "And how will your cadets react to going on actual duty."
    Spock: "As with all living things, each according to his gifts."

    Breath life into you writing and it will convey itself to the characters and the readers.
     
  16. lasm
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    lasm Member

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    I find it can be helpful to take your basic idea and start asking yourself a lot of questions about it. For a particular situation, what logical consequences would follow from the event you have in mind? Even just small things can add up to something interesting. Let's take the "pirate horror" example Mr. threw out. We can think about a number of things: Why do people become pirates? What kinds of people? Under what circumstances would a different kind of person become a pirate? What scares them? What do they like? Do they have any conflicted emotions about their work? Do they enjoy it? Why? etc. etc. And then there'll be an event, the catalyst for the story: How does that happen? Why? What are its effects on normal pirates? on Special Hero Pirate? and on you go.

    For me this helps me to avoid just pasting in scenes which may consciously or unconsciously derive from other works, because most of the time, those scenes won't really fit logically with the situation I've created unless I change them significantly. And then they're mine.
     
  17. Chris Weehuizen
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    Chris Weehuizen New Member

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    Thanks for all the tips, I recently saw the movie Prometheus and it gave me the inspiration I needed while still being able to stay original so thanks.
     

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