The Day Originality Died

There’s something familiar about that one on the right, I just can’t place it… oh yeah, everything.

As an author, there are two things that I want to be: good and original. It’s very important that I be both. I could be good but unoriginal, so anything decent I publish would just be called a Fifty Shades of Grey. Erm, I mean, a horrible ripoff. (Sorry, I was looking at a thesaurus.) On the other hand, I could be original but bad, so even if all my ideas were unique, they’d probably be Twili — er, I mean, terrible.

Some people go for being good and unoriginal, but end up being neither anyway. Take this image here. Looks pretty blatant, doesn’t it? There’s actually a huge number of these movies, and they can all be found on Amazon for your amusement. That’s not to say that some aren’t potentially decent if you don’t compare them to anything else, but it’s pretty clear where the original idea came from.

As silly as they are, it got me to thinking. Originality is kind of a challenge, isn’t it? Think about it this way. Every single second that goes by, someone somewhere on the planet is coming up with a new idea, turning it into a movie or book or story or photo or painting or drawing. It’s almost as if our brains are drinking from the Pool of Imagination, and it often seems like we’re in danger of drinking it dry. My question is, do you think we’ll ever see a time where there are no longer any new ideas?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought up some awesome idea for a plot only to have someone else tell me, That’s so cool! It sounds exactly like [movie/book/TV show/etc.] Depressing. As soon as I hear that, I tend to toss the idea into the bin. Yeah, I know. People often come up with different ways to work around the same vague idea all the time and they turn out great, but once I realize there’s some comparison there, it’s hard for me to work on it. All I can think about is how everything I think of after that is similar to something else, and the lack of originality is saddening and kills my muse.

No, I don’t have writer’s block. If anything, I have too MANY ideas. They’ve just all been done before.

That said, I don’t think we’re in any danger of losing new ideas for quite some time. At least not in my lifetime. I actually don’t think that we’ll ever run out of new ideas, because humans are creative, and I think the possibilities are limitless. It’s just becoming harder and harder to think of things without coming up with something that’s already been done. In a way, I kind of like that challenge. People have seen so much, so the idea of giving them something completely new is something to strive for.

Of course, humans are fickle things. What’s new and great isn’t always what people want. Sometimes what people want is what’s already been done before. What we pursue isn’t always quality and originality, which could explain why many books and movies that belong in the garbage are instead international bestsellers. Subjectivity and all that. But that’s okay. For every idea that’s done over and over, there will be more new ideas out there for the taking.

The pool of ideas is limitless. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t hard to find something new. With that in mind, I’ve just spend the entire morning plotting out a new story, so I’m going to get working on that. With any luck it’ll turn out to be pretty Harry Potter. Er, I mean… good.


8 thoughts on “The Day Originality Died

    1. Yes! Or even something at that level. Harry Potter is great, but I’m also endlessly impressed with the depth, the characters, the subplots, it was done so incredibly well. If I ever get to write half as good as that I’ll be pleased.

  1. The Pool of Imagination… it’d be interesting if something like that actually existed! But I agree – I think it’s always possible to come up with a new idea, but you just have to dig deeper and harder for it.

    And as the first reader of your new story, I can definitely say it’s something both good and original. =D

    1. I’m glad you think so! It’s quite different from the usual, so I hope that won’t influence its quality.

  2. Great post! I actually laughed out loud looking at the comparison picture for UP and its ripoff. I think that originality is something that we should strive for, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be at the surface level. There are many levels of creative originality — the first, most obvious one would be the overall story arch, the second layer underneath would be the characters and the particulars of their personalities (which would effect the way the story played out, at least superficially) and finally the third layer underneath that would be the writing style. I think the effect of style on how a story actually plays out is chronically undervalued. If a more poetic, prose-heavy author wrote ‘The Old Man and the Sea’, instead of Hemingway, we would be reading what amounts to an entirely different book!

    Anyways, sorry for the long comment, but those are my thoughts, 😛

    1. Oh yeah. It’s still possible to do something similar, but still be pretty original. When you think about it, a ton of stories are all the good vs. evil thing, but since there are so many good writers working with it, it doesn’t get boring. Good style is also amazing no matter what. Just recently I watched a movie that had a fantastic plot idea, but it ended up pretty bad. I was actually kind of annoyed that something with such great potential was abused so. Oh well!

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