Is any written works original anymore? I fretted on my writing not being "original" at one time, until I read the book, Mythology by Edith Hamilton and discovered that even Shakespeare's works were not original as I had thought at one time.
Joxcenia, interesting point about the Romeo and Juliet story referencing the Pyramus and Thisbe one. Actually I think that the Italian novella was based on the Pyramus and Thisbe legend, and Shakespeare's play was based on the novella.
Actually, the subject of young lovers wanting to be together over their parents' objections used to be one of the most hackneyed plots in so-called original literature, whether done as comedy or tragedy. It goes all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome, once again showing there's nothing new (truly original) under the sun.
Retelling stories is as old as the hills. West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. A Thousand Acres is a retelling of King Lear. Some people claim there are only twenty possible basic plots, and everything is a retelling of something else.
Last Edit: May 1, 2006 19:37:22 GMT -6 by Joxcenia
The "Pyramus and Thisbe" plot appears twice in Shakespeare's works. The plot of Romeo and Juliet may draw either from Ovid's Latin retelling in the Metamorphoses, or from Golding's 1567 translation of that work. A comic recapitulation appears in the play A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act V, sc 1), enacted by a group of "mechanicals".
This is the first lesson in your one-month course on plotting using basic conflicts.
======================= What Is Not A Plot =======================
In Create A Plot Clinic ( hollylisle.com/cap.html ), I point out that the 7 Basic Plots in Literature, (or the 1, or 3, or 20, or 36, depending on who you ask) are a myth of Mermaid-like proportions. (If you want to see the myth live, go to this link at the Internet Public Library: www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html)
Beginners look these up thinking they'll be able to memorize these puppies and then they'll always know what to write.
When you look at the lists, though, your teeth start to itch.
"[wo]man vs. nature" is not a plot.
"Type A, happy ending," is not a plot. (That's not even a helpful conflict. Foster-Harris manages in the four paragraphs listing his theories to turn writing into a black hole of tedium, sucking the life out of writers looking for help. Read "1 Plot" and "3 Plots" with your tedium-blocking glasses taped to your face.)
"Escape" is not a plot.
Gimme a break. You sit down at a writers conference and field questions about your next book, and someone asks "What's your book about?" and you say, "Escape," and then sit back like you said something useful, and every eye in the room is going to glaze over.
Not a single one of these things is a plot.
Excluding Foster-Harris, these lists offer conflicts. Conflicts are good. They're useful. But let's not mistake them for plots.
PLOT is the series of events that move the characters and story forward.
Plot is made up of characters struggling with conflicts toward a goal, whether known or unknown to them. Plot has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Plot Does Things.
So, aside from allowing critics to diss your book in three words or less, what are these lists good for?
They make very nice conflicts for real plots.
In Lesson Two, you'll start a plot outline doing a bit with Mix 'N Match Conflicts.
Keep writing, keep learning, And never give up on your dreams.
What people don't understand sometimes is that all the "ideas" are already out there and have been done to death. Anybody can have the same idea as you and the way they go about expressing that idea into words can be better than what you did, or not better, and that's more or less how we choose what to publish and what not to publish.
And copyright law, especially American copyright law, is totally in agreement with this: it says very clearly, ideas can't be protected by copyright, only the expressions of ideas.
The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide A Companion to the #1 Bestselling Series by Stephenie Meyer
Page 339: Stephenie Meyer: You know, I think ... maybe readers who aren't writer's might look at something like that --- using inspiration from other books --- as kind of a form of plagiarism. But, actually, the more you get into writing, I think you realize that there is no new story. Shannon Hale: Every story has been told, so you're just telling it in a new way.
Shakespeare stole every story he ever wrote; he wasn’t great because of his stories, he was great because of his words, which is why “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” has lived for hundreds of years, while “I don’t care who your daddy is” probably wouldn’t have lasted the weekend.
The Complete Idiot's Guide To: Creative Writing (Second Edition) by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.
Page: 29 5. "I don't have any original ideas. What could I possibly write about?"
Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim/Jerome Robbin's brilliant musical play West Side Story is a revision of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ... which is itself a retelling of a 1530 Italian story by Luigi da Porto, which is itself a retelling of Masuccio of Salerno's 1476 tale of star-crossed lovers, which is a retelling of Ephesiaca, written in the fourth century by the Greek historian Xenophon.
Cole Porter's delightful musical play Kiss Me Kate is a reworking of Shakespeare's The Taming of [the] Shrew, which is itself a retelling of ... .
You get my point: Many of our most "original" ideas are creative reworkings of very old, traditional stories. So why not take an old plot and make it your own by adding an individual twist?