Originality, is Anything new Anymore?

Anything written today is very likely influenced by those things that have gone before. The invention of Fiction, a genre where both author and reader are aware that the story is the authors invention, emerged in the 12th Century. Prior to that stories which we would consider fantastic, legends and fairy tales and such, would have been considered as truths, moral lessons or histories. We also have to consider that ‘books’ would have been expensive luxury items (the Gutenberg press wouldn’t emerge until the mid 1400’s) and also the influence of the Roman Catholic Church at this time.

So, what ‘original’ stories are there? Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ can be taken as an example, is there anything else like it in the works that came before? I can’t answer that for sure but the only influences I’ve turned up where the societal references for the satirical elements in the book and that has gone on to influence pieces like the Wachowskies ‘Matrix’ films or the Anime ‘Pandora Hearts’ in recent years.

Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ can be said to have been influenced by the historic accounts of Vlad Tepesh and the cultural legends of Vampires from Eastern Europe while Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ is influenced by the advances in medical sciences and the study of Galvanism of the time whilst her novel ‘The Last Man’ is an apocalyptic and, between the two, Shelly has to be acknowledged as the founder of the science fiction genre.

Picking up on the cinematic angle, even the most visionary of stories to come out in the last decade have their influences. James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ and Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’ (Based on ‘Valérian et Laureline’, Christine and Mézières), even David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ have their influences but, in each case, presented in a new and grand vision.

So, can we achieve anything similar with all that’s gone before? The more important question, surely is ‘Do we need to?’ One of the main elements of a successful story is that it’s accessible to a broad audience and that means they need to be able to identify with at least some elements of it. Putting unfamiliar characters in a familiar setting or familiar characters in an unfamiliar setting and so-on. I’m mostly convinced that, today, if someone were to write a truly original property (in terms of story, characters, settings etc) it would need to be largely unrelatable to the wider readership but, you don’t need to go that far.

Audiences flock to see and read old stories presented in new ways and, to quote an old saying, ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.’

4 thoughts on “Originality, is Anything new Anymore?

  1. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?


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