This IS Original

How wonderful would it be to come up with an idea that hasn’t been dreamed up before? That’s right. A brand new, shiny, virgin idea! *scratches head* Who ARE the people who can do that, anyway? I mean, we don’t live in vacuums, right? So that means every idea has to have been inspired by something.

So, then, what makes an idea or-i-gin-al? Well, I suppose an “old” story with a “new” twist could be considered original. Like, how many times has Dracula been re-done? Hello, Leslie Neilson. Dracula, Dead and Loving It, was original because it actually IMITATED the…um, original. Well, okay, so it was in a spoofy way, but still.

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What about The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas (, or Vamped by David Sosnowski ( Both had totally different premises for the condition of “vampire.” Psst, read ’em!

Wait. So, if we all strive for originality, then why–and for the love of God how–did reality TV infect the world like a virus? One network comes up with a “new” idea, and soon, you see all the networks with their own version. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional peeping in on someone’s personal life. The voyeuristic quality appeals to many. Hey, we’re human beings, curious creatures, right? But Trading Spouses, Wife Swap, the whole of HGTV for Pete’s sake? And OMG, how many medical dramas are there now? It just seems like originality is lost when the “market” gets flooded with a popular idea.

Darn it! I didn’t want to get off on a rant. Okay. Refocus.


Originality slapped me in the face when I watched District 9. Yup, Netflix is my friend, and we got closer after I watched that movie. The premise of the film was ORIGINAL. If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing it, do it. NOW. (Well, okay, you can wait ’til you get home from work.)

Pseudo-spoiler alert for the paragraph below!

Aliens came to earth and their ship basically stalled over a city. No, it wasn’t NYC or Washington, DC. (First point for originality.) The aliens didn’t launch a war on humankind. (Second point for originality.) Peter Jackson was involved. (Third point for originality, LOL!) Aliens, aka Extraterrestrials, were treated like illegal aliens infiltrating any country. They lived in slums. They were treated as outsiders, They were devalued. (Fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh points for originality.) The film was done in a pseudo-documentary style. (I will give this the eighth point for originality.) The ending was not predictable (at least to me). (Ninth point for originality.) The tenth point for originality goes to: human infection and hybridization of the MC.

Now, had only one of these ideas been in the film, it would have felt original. But with all these elements combined, the film was sooooooo original, I got sucked into it and I forgot who I was. Plus, I felt inspired. And EVERYBODY loves that feeling, right?

Oh, oh, eureka moment looming!

I wonder if an original idea is like a seed or a beginning. Whomever it’s passed on to nurtures it and make it grow. By caring for it in their own way, the person adds to its their own inherent originality. After enough time, it blossoms and produces seeds for the next generation of originality.

Really. Doesn’t this happen all the time? Take the blogosphere for instance. The journey of writing has certain developmental steps that every writer progresses through. Sure, each person has different talents, and different strengths and weaknesses, but the general path exists. Write a novel, look for an agent, trunk the novel, write another one or ten, look for an agent, edit, edit, edit, find an agent, edit, edit, edit, find a publisher, edit, edit, edit, land a publisher, start over with a new novel. And yet there are millions of books, each written in its own style, with its own plot line, with its own cast of characters. They’re ALL original! The novel I write certainly isn’t going to be like the novel you write, and vice versa.

All right, for those of you who braved through following my thoughts, I think I’ve come full circle. I’d still LOVE to come up with an idea that NO ONE has ever dreamed. At the same time, I understand better the concept that tweaking an idea with your own creativity and flavor can be just as original.

‘Kay, gang. What do y’all think about this?

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6 comments on “This IS Original

  1. Cheree says:

    I think originality lies in the spin that’s given to the original concept. I’ve been working on a vampire novel long before the whole vamp phase came in and I hope that some can see that as an original concept even though the main focus is getting a little overdone.

    Just keep thinking up those great ideas and I’m sure an original idea will pop up (but quickly get it out before someone else does… yes, that has happened to me).

  2. Lydia Kang says:

    Ack. I think about this a lot. I blogged about how to make sure you idea hasn’t already been done before, and some people were like, “Huh? There are no original ideas anymore.” It’s about making your writing turn any concept into something original. So, I believe that but also I don’t. I mean, if someone has a huge hit with the Vampire Mouse novel about a mouse that is sucking teens dry, I wouldn’t want to redo that theme again.
    So, to make a long story short, I think it’s a mix of finding a concept to fall in love with, that you find lovely and unique, and using your writerly instincts to twist it into your own original thing. There’s a million ways to make it original–plot, characters, setting, etc. That’s the hard part!

  3. ElanaJ says:

    I’m not sure there are original ideas for stories. I do think there’s originality in voice, style and character. Those originalities are limitless. As for plot… that’s not so limitless. So I think we should focus on A) stellar writing B) voice and style and C) creating compelling characters. And then it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing. People will care. Or maybe I’m completely wrong… 🙂

  4. lbdiamond says:

    I do wonder if the concern of “better get this out there before someone else does” lends a sense of pressure and therefore pushes some to query before they’re ready. (It’s probably one reason of many, LOL!)

    Thanks, everyone, for chiming in! Looks like there’s consensus that tweaking a once “original” idea with your own twist makes it fresh and new again. And, for sure, no voice, no interest. 😉

  5. I love the Support Non-Human Rights sign!

    I’ve left you a little something on my Magic Seeker blog. 🙂

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