Have you ever been accused of creating something that was unoriginal or uninspired? Let’s get some perspective, even a legend wasn’t entirely original.
Whether you are a writer or an artist few topics are as near and dear to your heart as the medium in which you work. For me that medium is writing, so I thought I would take a few minutes to share some thoughts on the subject even if people wouldn’t want to hear my thoughts on the subject.
One of the biggest problems people have when discussing writing is that there is a good chance they’ll come in contact with people who say that their work is derivative or unoriginal or just plain bad. To those people I have the following thing to offer. I say that at least in the case of fantasy and science fiction, which is where the bulk of my work is done, very few ideas are truly original.
Take for example the hit science fiction movie Avatar, while I found it to be a compelling story and the graphics were amazing one can’t deny it is simply a science-fiction retelling of the classic Western Dances With Wolves, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – both films have a proven formula, decent acting, and told a story that many people could relate to. I suppose then the key to any true original work lies in finding a story or theme that people can relate to and then putting a unique spin on it that you can make your own.
Let’s look at the topic of originality from another angle, still related to writing but from a different perspective, the perspective of the person who plays videogames. When you have a fantasy themed game, like the increasingly popular World of Warcraft, inevitably inside the game you’ll see people discussing who originated the idea of orcs and elves and goblins and magic and all the elements that make World of Warcraft what it is. Without fail in these discussions people will bring up the name of J.R.R. Tolkien who is known for his legendary Lord of the Rings novels and the fantasy world that he set up from those. However, even Tolkien is not entirely original because the basis of his work can be found in the myths and legends of people in ancient times. So, at the outset we see that even Tolkien borrows on themes. In order to give true credit to the originators of fantasy worlds we have to give credit to those people were huddled around campfires desperately trying to explain the world around them in ways that they can understand, whether they be morality tales or simply friendly stories to tell children.
As a writer while you should pay attention to criticism you cannot let it be the be-all and end-all, you have to write something because it’s what you want to write. If you’re writing to be published then you may have to change your work some in order to be published but the key is that you must be honest to yourself and what you want to accomplish. Besides, let’s face it, as people with an artistic bent if we’re going about things the right way the harshest critics we have should be ourselves.
In conclusion, so what if someone says your work isn’t that original? The point is that you are writing because it’s what you wanted to do, and no idea is truly original. Now, if you get to the point where you actually are plagiarizing someone’s work then you deserve to be tarred and feathered, however if you can honestly prove that your work is your work then you should be in the clear.