but that was my idea!

| Tuesday, December 8, 2009
maybegenius has died.

Not really, but the past two months are making me feel that way, for sure. Gack.

I feel like my posts recently have been limited to heavy territory, so I thought today I'd lighten up a bit. I'm going to talk about ideas. Namely, feeling like you have no new ones.

I imagine I'm not the only one who gets overwhelmed when attempting to flesh out a new idea, or who has suffered punched-in-the-gut syndrome when they think of something TOTALLY COOL AND AMAZING only to find out someone else got there first. It's incredibly disheartening, and makes you feel like a hack. How original can we possibly be if another writer/screenwriter came up with it first? I know that inner monologue all too well.

"Oh wow, that dream I just had was incredible. That would make a great story! I could just add... no, that was in an episode of Doctor Who. But what about making the character into a... Gah, no, the Roswell High series did that years ago. I could make a distop- Wait, that's way too 1984. Maybe I could just make the city of Atlantis into an alien space hub! What? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT'S BEEN DONE ELEVENTY-BILLION TIMES?! Holy crap, is there a SINGLE original bone in my body? Okay, that was weird phrasing, but you know what I mean."

Are there any original stories left? That's a subject of wide debate. Some say that at the core of storytelling, there are only a finite number to tell. Five, six, eight... depends on the person you talk to. Boy loves girl. Girl goes on journey. Stranger comes to town. Royal outcast attempts to regain kingdom. People rebel against oppressive ruler/government. Et cetera.

I'm still not sure where I stand on the idea, but I think it has merit. If we distill our favorite stories down to their bare bones, we get love stories, journey stories, overcoming the obstacle stories, whatever stories. I don't think there are as few as six or whatever arbitrary number someone picks out of a hat, but we can strip them all down. What makes ours different?

Ideas. Ideas can be unique, or they can at least stray from the norm. Our ideas are what shape an old story into something just a little different - like refurbishing an antique dresser into something new in our own personal style. Maybe you'll paint it purple. Maybe I'll hollow the thing out and turn it into a bookshelf. Maybe Joe down the way will demolish it and light it on fire. Who knows.

We just need one. Even if it's one that seems to have been done a million times, maybe we can twist it it yet another new way. Maybe our idea is our voice, or our characters. They might shine through and breathe life into a story that people would otherwise find eyeroll-inducing.

If we sit around stewing and struggling to pluck a 100% brand spanking new story out of our brain, we're going to be sitting there forever. We have to work with what we've got - telling the stories we know in our own voice and with our own ideas. Sure, 8000 people before me have told a story about a girl who learns she's special and has to save the world. But that story speaks to me, and I'm going to want to write it again and again. One of these days, that story WILL be woven into something only I could tell.

Granted, that doesn't mean it'll be any good. Maybe it won't even be readable. But it will be mine. All we can ever hope for is that someone else likes our ideas. And if they don't... ces't la vie. Let's face it, there are thousands - HUNDREDS of thousands - of writers and filmmakers out there that we haven't even heard of who have already come up with ideas similar to our own. No one is as original as they think they are. What can we do? We can only keep writing, attempting to cut our own path.

2 comments:

{ Andrew Stevenson } at: December 8, 2009 at 8:15 PM said...

Evolutiontionary stories are quite rare - i think, apart from science fiction - like Dr Who. Put your mind to it and there's lots of unique ideas. What if human DNA soaked into a tree, etc., and that tree absorbed it and took in the information and evolved to change with the bits it liked (far out there I know, but lots of possibilities. What if one species evolved to eat another species that its own DNA had instructed it to with a gene, and then that DNA took the genes it wanted from that species, and others, to become the best bits, a hybrid. Lots of possibilities with evolution and DNA. If we truely come from one cell, then perhaps that one cell is still within us, and is the brains of all bodily functions. Is it possible that each cell in the body telepathises with all other cells, and that's how are bodies work, is it really just through nerves, etc.? Lots to think about. There's lots of good books in there though, I'm sure of it. Just a suggestion. I myself am writing a crime thriller, and love writing. I especially love writing poetry. Good luck and Bye.

{ maybegenius } at: December 8, 2009 at 10:08 PM said...

There certainly is always something to think about! Good luck to you as well :)

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