Advice - Writing

The Enigma of Originality

Finding OriginalityIt’s often intimidating for author’s to take a hard look at their competition. It can be frustrating when an old idea seems to take on a new interest. Instead of wondering, “Why,” we should be looking at, “How?” How did they do it? How could they take that well worn topic and still find originality?

You must face facts when creating fiction. Most ideas have been written, and rewritten, numerous times. The way to be original isn’t with the story line. It’s in the telling of the tale.

It’s amazing how much life a simple twist on an old idea can create. It’s even more astounding when controversy launches from the seemingly mundane. What do these authors do? They simply find unique ways of producing what has already been done.

Look at the blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code . It’s purely fiction and simply puts a little more spin on urban legends from France and India. So what does the book do if it’s just a rehash of an old legend?

First, look at the novel as a whole. Readers love conspiracies and what better institution to host one than the often-resented and corruptly portrayed Vatican? That is a stereotypical factor, however didn’t diminish the novel’s popularity.

Second, there’s the pressure of time. The main character finds his revelation and must find an answer before he is assassinated or otherwise silenced.

This combination of suspense and worldwide betrayal initiated the spark that launched this book. It also helped that  a non-fiction book titled, The Jesus Papers, was published beforehand to firmly establish the respective lore. The ideas were so similar that a lawsuit resulted from the novel.

There can always be a unique twist regardless of the story. You can take a common plot and simply concentrate on where it can go. For example, the widely used foundation of “boy meets girl.” It’s simple and boring.

Now the fun begins. What do they look like? What are they doing? Are they running from unexplainable events? Dodging spies from a corrupt system? Many authors inadvertently limit their imagination because the concept of “realism” must be in place in fiction. It must be believable.

The factor to keep in mind is that anything can be manipulated to seem real. Don’t limit where you mind takes you when you can let it roam.

Originality is there and it is waiting for every writer. It’s just a matter of looking in all directions and not just at what is realistic at that moment. What may seem fantastic today might seem thoroughly plausible when you start working on the details.

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