“There is no Originality left in this world.”
I first heard this quote in an M. Night Shyamalan movie called “Lady in the Water”. It made me a little angry at the time because I was a budding novelist that NEEDED to write originality. How else would my stories get noticed!? I stubbornly dug my heels in and swore I would find original stories to write and I would amaze the world with my new ideas.
BE AMAZED, WORLD! *rawrrrr!*
As my husband, an avid League of Legends player, would say, “BREAK THE META!”
Ever the rebel, this idea only grew stronger the more that movie companies like Disney came out with sequels and part threes to their stories. My gawd, “The Land Before Time” series has like, what, twenty movies by now? And don’t even get me started on the Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella sequels. They make me terribly upset to even contemplate. (Thank you Pixar for making cartoon watching palatable again!! *KISSES*)
Well dang it, what’s the big idea here? Why do people ALWAYS try to follow the same story lines? And, more importantly, why in the hell do we readers, writers, and viewers eat all this up? I did some research and found a very succinct post from Len Wilson about the concept of plot originality (which in turn he had borrowed from his Creative Writing Teacher, who in turn learned it from Sir Author Thomas Quiller-Couch who probably learned it from someone else) —> Point proven.
Wrap your mind around this: THERE ARE ONLY SEVEN STORIES IN THIS WORLD.
WHOOMP there it is! Yeah. Take ANY novel you have on your bookshelf right now and I bet you can boil it down to any one of these plots:
- man against man
- man against nature
- man against himself
- man against God
- man against society
- man caught in the middle
- man and woman
Not to say they can’t be mixed and matched. Reading would be awfully boring if they weren’t mixed. But yeah. Kinda takes the OOMPH out of a novelist seeing this. At least it did for me for a while. Only seven ideas in which to build my multi-million dollar book empire on. There are billions of books out there and I can pick out any one of them and trace it back to the Original Seven. What the heck was I going to do to be DIFFERENT? It seemed like an uphill battle trying to claw my way to the top, past thousands of other novelists trying to break out into the sunlight from the shadows of anonymity.
Wait a minute.
THERE ARE BILLIONS OF BOOKS OUT THERE. And I’ve read probably about a thousand of them. Most of them I really enjoyed. I have about two hundred and fifty or so in my house at this moment and about another fifty loaned out to various friends. I have two libraries within walking distance and ten thrift stores to browse through. Plus, Amazon is my friend. A GOOD friend.
All these books and I realized that dammit, I ENJOYED the cliché!!
THE HORROR!! MY EXISTENCE IS A LIE!!
You know why I like it? Because the stories are wrapped up in different clothing from book to book. They’re cooked with different flavors. They’re sculpted by a different artist’s eye. They’re…
Okay, okay I’m sure you get it.
As much as I wanted to adhere to this “Kill the cliché” concept, even I had to admit that sometimes–A LOT of the time– clichés WORKED. Unknowingly, (or perhaps knowingly but not at all caring) we readers eat this stuff up. And as writers, we take inspiration and lessons from other writers who have probably learned, accepted, and followed the cliché trend to varying degrees. Readers are comfortable on a subconscious level that they can guess what’s going to happen in the end. The guy gets the girl. The hero saves the day. The bad guy gets punished. And all is right in the world.
(Now it doesn’t ALWAYS happen this way. Thank gawd. I might’ve stopped reading altogether.)
Yes, it was all a lie, this need to be different and break the meta. There really is no originality left in the world and there’s no escaping the cliché. But there are still some damn good stories out there worth investing in; YOURS and others. Embrace the cliché. Love the cliché. Use the cliché and amaze us with your voice.
I know I’m going to try 😉 Good luck my friends! Write on!! *FIST BUMP*