Monday, September 20

Originality in Storytelling

Has everything been done prior to?

The majority of writers strive to compose fresh, original stories. Theyre wanting to come up with a concept thats never been done before.

Is that even possible?

But if its true that every story contains components of stories that came before, then why do some stories feel original, even if theyre not?

Many stories are built with universal structures, or they utilize components that can be found in the myriad of stories that currently exists. Thats why readers can frequently forecast the outcome of a plot (weve seen that plot structure prior to) or why some characters feel familiar, cliché, or stereotypical (weve seen those characters and their issues before).

The Number Of Plots Are There?

In his book The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories ( aff link), Christopher Booker declares that there are only seven various plots in all of storytelling.

Bookers argument sparked much discussion among readers and authors, and a great debate taken place. Was it real? Exist only seven fundamental plots? And if so, how could any story composed after the very first seven perhaps be initial?

You can have a lot of enjoyable trying to classify your preferred fiction into one of Bookers seven plot categories:

Getting rid of the Monster
Trip and Return
Rags to Riches

Bookers idea of restricted possibilities within fiction is not a new idea. Joseph Campbell dissected the major components of narrative and produced the Monomyth (or Heros Journey) in The Hero with a Thousand Faces ( aff link), which identified the core plot aspects of storytelling in the worlds of mythology and folklore.

Do all excellent stories fit the Monomyth pattern? Some claim there are fundamental components in the Monomyth that any good story need to utilize. Others says that the Monomyth is simply among many storytelling possibilities.

Campbells concepts have actually been applied, tested, dissected, reorganized, and reanimated by authors, filmmakers, and literary experts. One of the most useful analyses of Campbells concepts is discovered in The Writers Journey (aff link) by Christopher Vogler; its a clear and detailed discussion of the Heros Journey, created to be used by authors who are crafting or fixing stories.

Another typical breakdown of plot boils them all down to 3:

Man against guy.
Guy against nature.
Male versus himself.

And we wonder why it appears like whatevers been done before.

Shattering the Myth of Originality

Despite the fact that whatevers been done, authors and other writers continue to produce stories that feel fresh. So how do they do it?

Think about two of the most popular stories in current history: Star Wars and Harry Potter. Heres a glimpse at simply a few of the most striking similarities between these two stories:

And those are simply the highlights. You can find a lot of other similarities in between these two iconic stories.

Both stories are about young orphans who live with their aunts and uncles. Both protagonists were orphaned when the villain killed their parents.

If these stories are so alike, then why do they seem drastically various?

Its All in the Details

When it looks like its all been done– every plot, every character, every concept that youve ever had– take heart. Move forward with your concepts, and keep remodeling the information, keep changing the components, up until your story feels distinctively yours

One takes location in a galaxy far, far away; the other takes location in London and a magic school for wizards. One story begins with its primary characters as kids; the other storys characters are young grownups. Many of the differences are window dressing– but these are the details that specify a story, that give it tone, style, and even indicating.

I dont believe we need to stop pursuing originality, but lets be reasonable about it.


And if so, how could any story composed after the first seven possibly be original?

Do all excellent stories fit the Monomyth pattern? Some claim there are basic elements in the Monomyth that any good story should use. One story starts with its primary characters as children; the other storys characters are young grownups. Numerous of the differences are window dressing– however these are the information that specify a story, that give it tone, design, and even indicating.

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