1. dushechka
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    dushechka Contributing Member

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    Originality

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dushechka, Oct 29, 2007.

    Sorry if this has been discussed already, I've just been thinking about it a great deal lately.

    In a growing world of fewer and fewer original ideas, how are we to find our voice and be unique and different? From the very early stages we're taught to copy the great authors, until we find our own voices and understandings. Do we just wake up one day and realize we've found ourselves? When do we stop copying, and when do we begin? Are writing rules made to be broken (within sense, mind you)? Are the rigid rules here to stay? Do they influence how original we can be?

    Does originality even exist? Or is the copying of multiple authors combined with our own thoughts original enough?

    Tell me your thoughts and strategies. : )
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    While IT (whatever IT is) has probably been said or told before, you may have a perspective on IT that hasn't been brought out, or that hasn't been seen by many. But how you say it can also be unique. You may be able to paint a clearer word picture than those who wrote about IT before.
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think originality is more to do with conent than context.
    Like take Trivium the metal band, it is clear to everyone who listerns to that type of music that they have copyed Metalica, and Iron Maiden.
    Yet they don't sing the same songs.

    I suppose it is much the same with writing.

    I'm hugly influanced by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and i've tried to copy his style and make it my own, yet i'll never write about Cthulhu, or Yog-Soggath. As Stephen King was before me.

    I guess nothing is completly origenal, if you want to do somthing completly origenal you'll have to do nothing... no what... that's already been done. :p
     
  4. K~la
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    K~la Senior Member

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    I think I agree with Lemex on this one. It's pretty hard to come up with something completely original so one way we do it is to take ideas we are already familiar with and kind of put our own twist on it.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...by thinking and writing, till you do...

    ...as a writer i never was... who taught you that?...

    ...not usually... but, like obscenity, greatness and other intangibles, most of us know it when we see it...

    ...imo, you should do so before you start!...

    ...whenever you want to...

    ...not really... but they are apt to be and are sometimes done so successfully... more often, done so poorly to abominably...

    ...depends on which rules you refer to... some are and some are not... like language itself, how we use it is in some ways, an evolving process...

    ...sure, if you let them!...

    ...not really... there are only 3 totally original story concepts and they were painted on their authors' cave walls long ago... all written since is merely 'creative plagiarism'... which doesn't mean the creative aspect can't provide us with fresh and interesting twists on the original three...

    ...copying is never original... getting new ideas from old works is the norm... making them 'your own' is the challenge...
     
  6. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    my 10cents worth

    I've struggled with this idea for many years. I started to write 10 years ago. Back then I was ignorant, but very individualistic. I could write a few great paragraphs, but then lose all notion of what I was doing.
     
  7. PaulChernoch
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    PaulChernoch New Member

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    Original means the person reading it has never read anything like it. With milions of books being written, no one can be familiar with them all. Don't worry about being absolutely original, just relatively original.

    What I worry about is beauty, truth, excitement, danger. I do not worry about originality very much. Quality I worry about a lot.

    - Paul
     
  8. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you write about the human experience, there will always be similar pieces to yours. To be "original," what you need to have is at least one part of the whole that stands out. For fantasy, many writers have quests. Having a quest is not original or unoriginal. What can be so includes the goal, the MC, the ending, the journey, the relationships. Of course, the five things I mentioned are present in all genres up to a point, and that is why you may at first feel unable to come up with something you feel is original.

    But you could look at it this way. There are billions of people in the world, all with different lives, even though if you looked, you could find many broad similarities. There are categories of people ranging from ones as general as "I have brown hair", to as specific as "my favorite song is Wild Montana Skies." When you aim for originality, ignore the brown hair, and concentrate on the things like Wild Montana Skies being a favorite song. Millions of MC's have brown hair, but very few (if any in published works) have ever said that they love Wild Montana Skies. That way, you'll only have to compete within a small category, where it's easier to compare ideas for originality. Or you could try to be original with brown hair, and I wish you luck if you do.:)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The devil is in the details, yes.

    I think sometimes the quest for originality becomes an obsession. Isn't the point to tell a story that holds people's interest?

    Romeo and Juliet is an old, old story, predating Shakespeare. It has been retold in many forms since then as well, retaining the basic conflict but crafting the characters and the settings differently. West Side Story is the same story, and yet stands very well on its own.

    Have you ever listened to the same traditional story or joke told be different people? They may use virtually the same wording for much of it, but one person has the listeners laughing, or enraptured, where as the rest receive varying blank stares. It's the same joke or story, but how it is told makes all the difference.

    A good storyteller makes even the oldest, most timeworn story feel as fresh as a dawn breeze.
     
  10. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    The crazy thing about originality is that most great writers have been inspired by someone. If you go into their biographies you find them mentioniing writers they learned from or anjoyed and incorperated into their own style. You can even find it clearly in their work.

    Originality is rare these days. occasionally someone will come out with something unique. Starship Troopers popularized the concept of power armor (Gundam and Halo have much in common with Starship Troopers), neuromancer started the cyberpunk genre (Leading to Ghost in the Shell and the Matrix).

    Are these works unoriginal? Yes. They've all taken some new look on the subject. Gundam made the power armor huge robots. Halo added religious zealotry and super soldiers to the mix. Ghost in the Shell dove deeper and pushed the concepts of Neuromancer furthur, and the Matrix has a little of just about everything in one nice package.

    If you find something you like, think of what you can do to add to the mix. He did this can you do it better or he went that way I want to go this way. How can I make this old style story fit into a more modern context? Ask yourself questions like that and if you come up with something you like run with it and keep going.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    J.R.R. Tolken proved that with Lord of the Rings.
    He taken the age old battle between good and evil and put a new twist to it.
     

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