As writers, we often to write to find ourselves. Or to speak the truth of things or relay a message, etc. by creating imagined worlds or recreating a factual reality. And to do so, we try our utmost to write it as originally as possible. But what is original?
The dictionary defines ‘original’ as present or existing from the beginning; first or earliest. But that’s become increasingly hard to do in today’s book industry. If you were to do a search on Goodreads you’d find a shelves list of 100,000 fantasy books. But what of those are about elves, wizards, witches, vampires, etc.
As a writer, you’d have to acknowledge that writing an original story would not always be possible. And that’s all right. It does not matter if the subject matter or content lacks originality as long as you can offer a fresh or different perspective. Put a new spin on it and make it yours.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series are vampire-themed novels. But the history of vampire fiction first began in the 18th century in poetry. Then in the 19th century, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published. Fast forward to the 1970-1980’s to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned. They’re all vampire novels, but each author had a different storytelling approach of the subject.
Meyer’s novels’ focuses on the challenges of a human and vampire being in a romantic relationship. Dracula is about a vampire count seeking new feeding grounds and creating more vampires like himself. As well as the people who dared to defy and battle against him. Interview with the Vampire is a story of Louis, a weary vampire, telling a boy his life story of loneliness and pain due to his immortality. Queen of the Damned deals with the origins of vampires which led back to pre-Egypt.
Even though vampire stories have been done to death, readers won’t tire of them. I guess it’s the allure of living forever and how vampires are often portrayed as attractive and erotic beings. It’s the same with Cinderella-type or royalty/commoner romances. The ability to never age or dreaming of living a real live fairy tale is an inherent desire of most of us. It won’t surely happen, more so the former than the latter. But that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge ourselves by reading about such things. Or writing about them.
So don’t over think about writing something original. Instead think of how you’d like to tell a story or subject matter, regardless if it’s been done before. The content is already there. In a plethora of histories, legends and myths, folktales, hoaxes and rumors found around the world. You just need to find a subject matter that grabs at you and write the hell out of it as only you can write it.
What theme or subject is your book or work in progress about? Is it similar to any other works? And in what ways is it different? Please share in the comments section below.