January 29, 2013

Trying to be Original. Does it Exist?

One of the challenges I’m faced with writing my book series creating something ‘new’, or having a different approach to the genre I’m contributing to.

t has oft been said that ‘there is so such thing as an original thought anymore’. I have no idea who said that, but if you truly think about it, it may be possible. This is true if you have a look at the entertainment industry lately: movie, television, music. Something that sounds very similar to something else we have seen or heard or before.

With fantasy, not only was Lord of the Rings a great book, it began a trend, or staple, rather of fantasy, and storytelling. Look at the basic premise of Lord of the Rings, and how many fantasy or adventure stories are similar. My father has read Terry Brooks’ Sword of Shannara, and throughout he kept laughing at random parts, usually with ‘I’m surprised this guy didn’t get sued!’ or ‘Gee, that’s familiar!’ Clearly, he believed that the first book ever written in that series was a direct copy of Lord of the Rings.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time (especially the first book, The Eye of the World) has a lot in common with Tolkien’s works. The ‘copying’, or rather, ‘borrowing familiar elements’ aren’t as blatant, and things make sense in his series, other than just using something for the sake of using something. For what it’s worth, that series is by far the best that is ‘similar’ to that style that I’ve read so far.

Which brings me to my point. I am not attempting to copy or mimic something that has been. I am seeking to avoid ‘copying’ as best as I can. I’m thinking of my world, story scenarios, characters, etc, and I see shades or elements from A Song of Ice and Fire, and Skyrim (as well possibly the other Elder Scrolls games, such as Morrwind and Oblivion). Of course, I’m going to use those familiar elements differently, or if something is too similar, I’ll just re-write it or re-work. When I say that George R.R. Martin’s series influenced me as a writer, I mean. Truly I do. But I am not seeking to copy or mimic it. I’ve adapted the way the story is told (not following a single character through the entire book, multiple viewpoints…George wasn’t the first to do that, but I’m giving an example) and the fact that there is no one safe from death. Also, the lack of orcs, dwarves, elves etc also. The only ‘fictional creatures’, are beasts such as dragons, phoenixes, etc. Non-human, if you will. Aside from that, everything is of my own writing, and ideas I've had for a while. Sure, because of how long fantasy has been around, as well as myth and legends, and video games, some things may seem familiar. However, I don’t play Dragon Age thinking ‘ah, this will work well in my series – let’s steal it!’ That is the last thing I intend to do.  

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