Creating Original Stories

be-original-quotes-4Some people say,”There are no original stories”.  I disagree there are original stories, it’s just that they are few and far between.

Nearly all of us are bound by the stories of the societies we grow up in, the experiences we share, and the education that shapes us. For most of us, by the time we leave education we are not capable of an original thought, let alone creating an original story.

I would say the following are original stories, but I could be wrong:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
  • Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
  • The story of Jesus.
  • The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

To create an original story, I reckon you need to be:

  1. A visionary who can see the consequences of where society is headed.
  2. A young child who has not yet learned the moors and restraints of society.
  3. Mentally different, so the moors and restraints of society have little impact on you or you see the world from a different perspective.

Or you know someone like one of the above.

For the rest of us: “Good writers borrow, great writers steal” – there seems to be a great deal of argument about who said that.

Some of the most influential stories of recent history have been reworkings of other stories e.g. Star Wars is Lord of the Rings set in space, Alien is just another space monster movie but taken to an extreme, Bridget Jones is Pride and Prejudice, and Romeo and Juliet have been retold numerous times.

The way you make something your own is by taking the bones of a story: the plot, characters, story beats, and theme, and doing something different with them: Change the theme, change the location, change the characters, change the setting, change the ending, change the hurdles/difficulties the characters have to overcome, give them super powers, give them a disability, change the consequences, put the story in the past, in the future, include time travel, restrict/unrestrict the characters in some way, give the characters different character traits/flaws.

If you follow through the consequences of any of these changes, scene by scene, you will end up with a story that is uniquely your own.

Nick

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