Surprises and Originality

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

I’ve been working through my plot. Figuring out all I want to put into this book, because there’s so much to this story and not all of it is going to end up in this book. All of it affects the story in some way, but not all of it is going to be actually written down in ink on the page.

As I’ve worked through who is where, at what point in the story (which is turning out to be harder than I initially thought, by the way), I’ve run up against a nagging thought. There’s so much of this story that is like other stories. All the things they want and are trying to achieve and are thinking, are things that other people have covered. They are things that are found in dozens of other books, by hundreds of other authors.

I have had the thought over the last couple of weeks that I’m not bringing anything new for my readers. The thought had me frozen me for a while. Why am I trying to write a book that is just a variation on the things that other people have already covered?

Several months ago, I was trying to figure out some key point in the plot, and I was in the car with my kids. They were giving me ideas, and my littlest piped up from the backseat. She thought my villain should be like a phoenix, and die, but come back to life.

It was a great idea, and it’s a central point in my story’s plot. My antagonist died and came back to life years before this story takes place. It haunts him, and affects all his decisions and has shapes the lives of everyone in the story. It paints his future with fear and uncertainty.

I’ve continued working on that plot line, and I realized that I had the counter argument for my doubt and frustration this week.

Everything has been done. Every story can be boiled down to a very small selection of basics. You have men and women and sometimes non-humans all dealing with random events and thoughts and circumstances. Every story is a resurrection of one very basic premise. People have lives and life itself forces us to face any number of boring or exciting events that bring us through life and to an end at some point (usually).

The story I’m telling may not be astoundingly different, but hopefully it’s fresh and at the very least, exciting. Nothing new, but maybe a new way to deal with and look at the world. Maybe a few new thoughts on things we’ve thought about or haven’t. Or a different perspective we haven’t considered.  Maybe I have a few surprises up my sleeve, even if they aren’t completely original.

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