Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Being Derivative

Recently, I wrote about there being no new ideas.  I wasn't complaining, and I certainly didn't mean that we shouldn't bother trying anymore, I was just commenting on all of these 'derivative' things I was suddenly seeing.  (Note:  I'm a big fan of Big Bang Theory, and can't use the word 'derivative', without thinking of Leonard.  Hi, Leonard.)

This morning, I was reading through some older posts on Author's Echo, one of the blogs I follow. (see my list, in the sidebar)  One of the posts was entitled "5 Secrets to Keep you in the Game" ---  posted 2 years ago.  Secret #1 is It's okay to rehash old plots.  And Adam (the author of Author's Echo) notes Everything's been done and will be done again. Don't let that stop you.

Point taken, Adam.  And you certainly said it better than I did.  But -- although you kind of imply it -- I think you left some stuff out.  I think I'd be happier with something like  Everything's been done and will be done again. Don't let that stop you, but on the other hand, don't let that serve as an excuse for mediocrity.  You have to add something to it, and make it your own, or no one will care. 

Singers sing previously recorded songs all the time.  Sometimes, they sound just like the original, and we're impressed.  But it's better when they take the song and 'make it their own.'  As writers - at least fiction writers  - it seems like we all strive to come up with a unique idea.  We get our concept, we work it, we massage it, and we come up with a story.  And then - BOOM - someone says 'gee, that's just like..."  and we feel deflated.  I don't think we should care. Which is just another way to say what Adam said, two years ago  --- Don't let that stop you.  It's okay to rehash old plots.

This evening's tea -- Barry's Tea.  Pretty good..  but Typhoo is still #1 on my list.

(note:  I'm a new blogger, and not 100% sure of the protocol re: referencing what someone else blogged.  If I haven't done this right, my apologies to Adam.)


  1. Interesting. You are right - I agree with you.

  2. "You have to add something to it, and make it your own, or no one will care."


  3. A wise man once said, "There is no new thing under the sun." It has all been done, seen, heard, and read. We simply have to do it different from anyone else. That's a challenge but not impossible.

    You mentioned songs and that's a good analogy for me. Recently I heard a song on the radio that I had heard sung in church as a child. Casting Crowns was the group I believe and when I heard their version, I was amazed. I loved it. I loved the original but the new version was just awesome. I liked it even more. They did the same old song... but in a new way. It can work.