1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Something compeltly new.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by colorthemap, Sep 10, 2011.

    The writing advice cliche has always been "everything has been done before", and most people don't argue. But I ask is this really true? Can't there be really unique stories?



    Or no?

    Sorry I meant: "Something completely new.'
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is a chance that a meteorite could decide to occupy the space you are currently occupying. But it is a low enough probability it is not worth worrying about. An obsession with staring at the sky watching for falling space rocks would keep you from getting anything accomplished.

    The same is true of an obsession with creating an original story concept.
     
  3. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    It's not that unlikely.

    It's more like that old chinese fable about a farmer and a rabbit. A farmer sees a rabbit smash into a tree by accident and he cooks it. He then ignores his crops and waits for more rabbits to arrive. He starves to death.

    The point is, if a rabbit comes your way, whoo hoo. But don't spend your days wishing for that. Instead, tend to your crops.

    The same with story ideas. If something really original flashes into your mind, work on it. But don't spend every waking moment waiting for that flash. Work on your (unoriginal) story instead.
     
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  4. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Right I just wondered if anyone thought it possible.

    Easier to fix an unoriginal story than craft a new one.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's pretty easy to come up with original story concepts. But the problem is, do readers want to read them? Readers want stories about characters they can relate to in some way, someone they can empathize with. That drastically constrains what readers want to read, and therefore what writers write. As a writer, you probably come up often with story ideas that seem like stories you've read before, and that's because you're human. You're drawn to write about what you want to read about, and that's usually about human beings interacting with other human beings.

    You could write a story about a lump of iron rusting in the rain, but would anybody want to read it? Maybe, if you imbued the lump of iron with something like a human consciousness. But if it's just a lump of iron rusting, readers won't relate.

    If you want to write about human beings, or aliens who have emotions that resemble those of human beings, or animals human beings can relate to, you're on solid ground. If you want to write about hydrogen atoms whizzing through the galaxy, having no feelings or cares at all, you're probably just being experimental. And experimental fiction doesn't often get many readers.
     
  6. Summer
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    Summer Member

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    I think it depends on what level of the story you stop at and decide that this is what it's about. On the surface a story can be completely new (as far as the writers knowledge, which might not actually be true)--but when you get down to the core of it most stories follow one of a few standard frameworks.

    There isn't anything wrong with that though. As the writer you put your own touch on it with how you develop the characters, the writing style, etc. to create a story that is unique enough that readers don't feel like they are reading something they have already read before.
     
  7. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    I guess it is simply relative.
     
  8. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    To put it as lightly as possible: Originality is as rare as perfection. Everything always has a base, as everything in a person's experience influences the idea. Now, for stories, then perhaps there may not be similar stories, but the framework for almost everything is the same. Themes are almost always similar, along with techniques used by other authors. Characters and names may be different, but most books are either "Epic Quest," "Mystery," "Star-Crossed Lovers," "Fall or rise from/to Power," to name a few. The only exceptions, of course being the ones that make the rule, would be nonfiction. Usually no immediate themes, but of course those ideas are far from original. It is nonfiction, after all.

    If an original idea comes, use it, make it yours. But that's only if it comes. One simply can't wait for it, they have to keep moving forward and it'll come.
     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I think its more about how much is new. I could rewrite Dracula, change Drac's name to Frodo and give him seven rather then six toes, and that would be new. Just not very. Or I could write about the orgasmic life of quarks and the terrible threat they face of non-existence at the random non-hands of dark matter, which would be quite original I expect, but not terribly interesting and probably wouldn't make a lot of sense (even to me).
     
  10. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    Of course there are new ideas and things to write about - to me it just seems like it is common sense. After all, if we have technology now that we didn't have a hundred years ago, we automatically have new things to write about now than we did a hundred years ago. Same applies for the future - if you believe that we will continue to technologically advance, then there is obviously going to be new things to write about, because you can write about them.

    That being said, actually thinking of what these new things will be is what is the difficult part. But then, that is why I use things, not invent them. Same applies for story writing, I use existing ideas and premises (albeit, trying to give them my own spin), because I cannot think of my own.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there are new, original twists to old, basic storylines...
     
  12. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    Interesting thread. :)

    Heather, even though the content of future stories might be new because certain technologies haven't been invented yet, would it not still fit into an establish form of story?

    The more pertinent question is whether there is a form of story that is completely new. I would suggest not, that quite literally every (readable) story structure has been conceived and published. But that doesn't mean that all subsequent writing is unoriginal. The way that a story's structure is interpreted by the author, and how the plot develops as the structure is played out, is an individual as a snowflake.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No, it isn't literally true, and some of us here have made that point before. When people say it has all been done, they're speaking broad terms about themes, plots, and the progression of the story in a general, broad sense. No one thinks the exact story you are writing has been done before. If it had, there would't be any point to writing it.
     
  14. Blackgamen
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    Blackgamen Member

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    The biggest thing about originality is the fact that when you start creating something, most often you will find yourself coming up with ideas that are based on things that you have already seen.
    Also the media and writers will go with something that is popular. So we end up with Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood etc. As long as they continue to do well, the media will continue to put out these money makers. Every now and then a new concept comes out and is popular and so the deep pocketed corporate types will make it unoriginal in a couple years after the masterpiece is put out.
     
  15. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    The concept might not be completely new, but the way you write it and how you approach it should be. It is the originality of your writing rather than the idea you hang the writing on that has to be original. That way, you can avoid the "I've seen this before" scenario.
     
  16. Heather
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    Heather Contributing Member

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    No, I personally beleive that stories will be told in different ways in years to come too. The same as our storytelling has changed from the typical type of storytelling that happened in the Victorian ages (although not entierly), I think it will continue to change and evolve. Yes, because it happens gradually, it may not seem that new, but the end result will be something new. And I do beleive that, if you are writing about a new thing (and it doesn't just have to be technology, but any new discovery), then it is an origional idea.
     
  17. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Honestly, I think that the whole "You can never be truly unique because every story idea is just a rehash of something else" attitude is quite negative and nihilistic.

    Sure, I can see that there's common plot structures: for example, protag starts out unimportant, then something happens to cause them to step to the plate, then they encounter obstacles, then by the end they win.

    But there are common elements in everything. Using the above statement to justify lack of originality in every story is like saying that no painting is unique because they all rely on patterns of color, or that no person is unique because our biology all works the same way.

    Aside from that, think of all the genre-paving stories. Lots of medieval fantasy is a rehash of LOTR, but LOTR was a new, genre-paving fictional work at the time it was written. (Although inspired by mythology and other sources, it was the first time fantasy was seen as something that could be for adults as well as kids.) There had to be a first horror novel; a first chick lit novel; a first mystery novel; etc.

    Who's to say that there's no possibility of paving a new category of fiction?

    And, even if you speak less drastically about writing within already-existing categories, your characters and their specific situations are probably pretty unique on their own.
     
  18. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^This!
     
  19. mattscriv313
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    No idea is entirely new, on a technical level at least. Your brain is generating ideas from posters, movies, TV, stuff people have said for, quite literally, as long as you can remember. If you have a good plot it should be physically impossible (save for the incident where the movie Inception comes true) for anyone to determine exactally where your ideas came from.
     
  20. webbo_5
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    webbo_5 Member

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    Every story should have an original voice. It doesn't matter if the surroundings, general story line, etc have been covered before (they have). If you have a unique style, (word usage, sense of humor, pacing), you're tale has a chance of being interesting. If not, you are likely rehashing the same old shit.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't really what people mean when they say it's all been done before. LOTR is a fantasy, sure, but it's basically a hero-quest story, and there were already thousands of those at the time Tolkien wrote his. You can change the setting, the rules of the universe, and so on, but generally, you're not changing the root of the story.

    Hero quest stories, star-crossed lover stories, Oedipus stories, revenge stories, and so on have all been done. It doesn't matter whether they take place in ancient Rome or the Old West or outer space or Middle-Earth. Adding a few frills doesn't make it original.

    What CAN be original is your approach to it - how you write it. Your own sensibility can be new and different. But, as I said in an earlier post in this thread, if you try to come up with a new BASIC kind of story, you're probably doing experimental fiction, and their isn't much of an audience for that.
     
  22. AfterBroadway
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    AfterBroadway Senior Member

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    Honestly, I didn't read this whole thread, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.

    Look at zombie movies as an example of a story that's been done a million god damn times. But every once in a while a good one comes along. Like 28 Days Later, an awesomely smart and well-written movie. On the other hand, George Romero sucks. He changes very minor things about the concept of zombies and gets praised for it. In Land of the Dead he makes zombies able to walk under water. Sorry, that doesn't cut it. So, you can repeat a vague idea, but make the content original.
     

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