Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's All Been Done Before

There are, what? Seven basic story archetypes? (correct me if you know for sure)

I used to note them all the time when I was primarily into fantasy. Chosen one saves the world. Select group find object of great power (to either wield or destroy). There's always the super bad guy and the unwitting hero.

Mystery - quirky detective solves crime, bad guy punished.

Romance - well, that consists of boy meets girl. No obstacles can keep them from finding their happily ever after.

It's all been done. It's the author's voice that makes it unique. If that was not true, why would the romance reading demographic read hundreds and hundreds of the same story? After all, it's all about love finding a way -- except that it's not.

It's all about the characters. They make the story real and unique. Even though some genres overuse certain character archetypes (the alpha male in romance) each one has has own fingerprint, his own strengths and weaknesses (even though they're all physically perfect*). If the gorgeous, emotionally unavailable, sexually skilled leading man was vapid, the reader would not fall in love with him and the book would not be memorable.

Author's in every genre will run into that moment when they realize their story is not a reinvention of the wheel. They just need to breath in through the nose, out through the mouth, and accept that their own version of the wheel is not a rip off, it is part of them. It's their own unique voice, their own characters, their story -- and that is okay. No one who is a fan of reading will accuse them of copying. Because it's all been done and will be done again.

Be the purple bunny.

*Mary Balogh has a hero that was injured badly in war. His face is disfigured and he is missing a limb (if I remember). Good book, btw.


Jennifer Hillier said...

I totally agree. It's all about putting a fresh spin on an old idea. Everything has been done before!

Great post!

Jen said... the purple bunny! I love it!!

You're right, it all HAS been done before, BUT there is always a distinct twist that can set a new story apart. I love trying to find a new way to tell an old tale :)


Raquel Byrnes said...

Oh, Pffttt!

Raymund Hensley said...

Thanks for this awesome post! I strive to be the purple bunny =)

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