Keeping your stories fresh.

Are there any original ideas?

Short answer: No.

Long answer? Well, of course there are.

Idea and stories…motifs and themes, they are everywhere. Yet we all are still talking about them. And each generation and group of people have something that they need to say that is different than their ancestors. And themes, while universal, still adapt and grow.

For example: Fairytales.

How many times have you heard of a girl who has a wicked stepparent who gives her inheritance to interlopers? The girl uses her connections to get her fairy godmother to hook her up with a great dress then she goes and catches the eye of the prince at the ball, thereby escaping her situation and getting the happily ever after.

Yet how many Cinderella movies have been made in the last 10 years? I can think of five off the top of my head. All were the same. Girl’s life sucks. Girl meets godmother. Godmother blesses girl. Girl gets boy.

Even though that idea, the concept of the magical salvation and happy ending is old, we still are seeing new inventions on it. How amazing is that? Is the idea original? Nope. But are the stories enjoyable? Hell yes.

Let’s take two opposite tales: The Phoenix and the Ashes by Mercedes Lackey and Cinder by Marissa Meyer and do some comparing.

In The Phoenix and the Ashes, Eleanor’s evil stepmother is a dark witch who traps her in her home so that she can continue to use her fortune to fund her daughters. The setting is WWI and we get to know the Prince and see not only the two of them interact and grow together but also get to watch Eleanor become a powerful magician in her own right, breaking her own spell against her horrible stepmother.

In Cinder, we have a Cinder, a cyborg missing a foot who falls in love with the Prince when she fixes his robot. Her stepmother isn’t a magical witch but the hatred and loathing is still real. Cinder is based in a futuristic society with space travel and horrific diseases.

Both stories are Cinderella…but they each have their own unique twists.

And that twist, that change of perspective is all the originality that  you need to tell a new story.

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