Tuesday 17 January 2012

Musings of an Author: Originality

I recently had an idea for a new story. The idea came to me quite suddenly and then I slowly began to work through the details in my mind, thinking it was really original and fresh. Another project then took precedence and I was forced to put the new story aside for a few months.

In the meantime, I was reading away quite happily when I came across a book that made me pause. I read from start to finish and really enjoyed it. It was only as I started to write up my review that I realised—it was very close to my story. Not 100% the same of course, but with enough similarities to destroy any thoughts of mine being an entirely new concept.

And that got me thinking: How original can an author really be?

The world has been reading for hundreds of years and with each new step in technology more and more books are flooding the market every month. Given the vast number of publications out there, what is the chance of any storyline really being one of a kind, particularly in a genre such as paranormal romance? Just how many different ways can you tell human meets vampire, human hates vampire, human loves vampire? Besides, when you really analyse books, most bestsellers follow a set formula or pattern. Maybe no book can ever be entirely new anymore as there are so many already out there. It makes sense then for writers to employ the standard ideas or events that they know the audience expects.

My novel Day-Walker revolves around the idea that some vampires can walk in the sun and those that can’t seek to hunt them down and steal the power. But beneath that there is the age-old tale of human girl meets vampire and loves him anyway. In this piece, I took a standard formula and added my own twist to it.

So, my advice to myself and to any other budding authors out there is this: Originality does not have to mean that every single aspect of your story is new. Rather it is about the ability to take the old and remould it into something distinct and attention grabbing. Don’t fret that your story seems to follow an established pattern. Rather use that pattern to your advantage—give the readers what they want, but do so in a way that will make them remember you.

Where does this leave me? Well, I am going off to work on that manuscript again. So what if I didn’t create something never seen before? I can still do my best to put together an exciting story, blending the old with my own style and ideas.

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