We talked before about the importance of knowing who you are. It is to get back your intuition and present your own unique vision of the world to your readers. I want to discuss this topic in more detail today, because of how important it is. There is one thing you can never hope to achieve when you don’t when you don’t know yourself: Originality.
Photo Credit: jonjomckay
There aren’t many things that writing teachers talk about as much as originality. One of the most common advice they give to aspiring writers is to tell them to write original fiction. They say that without being original you can’t hope to get published. The problem is that many teachers never elaborate on it.
They simply point to writers that showed this specific originality they are talking about. There is one big problem with that approach. In his search for originality the young writer might start to imitate these writers they know have been original. I think you can see the dilemma in this approach. The young writer is not true to himself.
There is one big question: What is even original these days?
Nothing is truly original
It is a fact that everything has been done before.
Even when we find a book that seems to us truly unique and original, the chances are high that we simply don’t know the source material.
Give it a moment and think about it. In the end there are only so many different story archetypes. If you take a look at popular fiction, many books have the same underlying plot basics. There are many books that talk about these topics. There is for example ‘Save the Cat’ by Blake Snyder or The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker. While the number and the names of these archetypes vary, the principle is always the same. There is only a set amount of different plots.
The only thing we can do is to take this basic plot and put it into a new guise. We put it in a new time and place and fill it with our own characters.
It is therefore that no story or plot is truly original.
Everyone sees things differently
You have to remember that there is no one else who has been born to your parents, at your time in your country. No other person is exactly like you, has made the same experience that you have and no one reached the same conclusions like you.
As I mentioned in an article last week, knowing yourself is important. Many great writers had their own way of seeing the world. They all had their own unique vision of it and transcribed it for their readers.
That is where their originality came from. Simply from the fact that they showed us how they saw things, what they thought about them and what they felt.
Write about what excites you
What does this mean to you? It means that you should stop trying to find an original story or idea. There is most likely none.
So instead of searching for originality, simply search for ideas that excite you. Try to find things that hold your attention and that stay on your mind long after you saw or noticed them. It is these things that should be the basis for your stories.
Once you have found such an idea, present it in your own unique way. The way only you can see it, no one else.
A story should not only be about people in conflict. Instead you also have to present your own thoughts and believes about such a conflict. People want to find out what your thoughts, morals, philosophies and viewpoints are. They want to see your own unique vision of your stories world and conflict. It is this what makes literature truly worth reading and original.
Originality doesn’t come from ideas, it comes from vision.
Remember the above sentence. It is exactly for this reason that you need to find out who you are and get your own vision of the world back.