I've recently been suffering from an all too familiar (but possibly useful) affliction where I start to feel that the series of novels I've been writing and the world they are set in is not actually taking my writing where I want it to go after all. I am beginning to feel that I should write something more inventive and original than generic fantasy stories. After all when Tolkien invented fantasy in the form that most people mean when they simply say 'fantasy' it was quite an original idea. A whole term was invented for it called 'secondary worlds'. And no-one has quite achieved the massive success in this genre that Tolkien did. The other majorly succesful fantasy stories (I'm talking the ones that made mega-bucks) have also involved interesting new twists on the fantasy genre. Pratchett came up with the idea of setting his stories on a world that is flat. Rowling's Harry Potter books involved a kind of parallel fantasy world going on behind the scenes of this world and cleverly marketed it towards a childhood audience with the interesting idea of a school for wizards. The questions I have are thus: Is it worthwhile trying to write within a tradition or genre that is well established already or is it best to find a completely novel approach to world creation and find as interesting or different a take on a given genre as possible? And is it possible to come up with a completely original idea anyway? Did Tolkien invent the most familiar type of fantasy story - or is that type of story older than him? Is Discworld or Harry Potter really as original as I'm imagining them to be? But if not then what was it that made them stand out enough to be embraced by millions? How original does a writer have to be to be a success rather than an amateur?