On The Matter of Originality

by Crazybob

To be original is to not confine oneself to the boundaries set by one’s predecessors. In today’s modern society, this is a sometimes frustrating task for a writer. Albeit, it is impossible to be completely avant-garde, because our influences shine through in everything we write. Acknowleging that it is all but impossible to show someone how to be original (an oxymoron), we have a few suggestions that might help you in discovering the individual in yourself.

a. Dreams are the key to our subconsciouses. We recommend keeping a dream diary of some sort and recording ideas that you remember after waking. If you’re having trouble remembering dreams, try setting an alarm to wake you up halfway through your sleep cycle, and after you wake up, go back to sleep. Interrupted slumber usually provides more lucid, easier-to-remember dreams. There is nothing more individualistic than yourself.

b. Avoid ripping people off. This includes fan fictions and all that sort of nonsense. It’s one thing to borrow ideas and styles from other places, but it’s another to completely plagiarize a fellow writer’s characters and concepts. This pertains mainly to the sci-fi and fantasy genre, most notably with Tolkein books. Use your imagination, for Pete’s sake, people. You do have one.

c. If you are having trouble thinking of something original to write, begin by developing a concept, a point if you will, that you want to convey to the reader. Whether you are bringing awareness artistically to something, or merely just trying to tell a story, think of an end goal that you want to reach. Par example, let’s say that you want to write a short story, but cannot think of how you should go about accomplishing your goal. You could easily take a basic issue (for the sake of example, we will use the recent situation in the Catholic Church), and write a story revolving, either metaphorically or realistically, around that issue. By trying something similar to this, you are recycling an event, issue, or concept of some sort, and transmographying it into art. Styllistically, this method can be applied in a likewise manner. Say that you are writing a depressing story about little kids being mutilated or something, and you wish to be original in your use of written word. You could put a new twist on it by writing it like a fairy tale or something (i.e. Once upon a time there was a little boy named Timmy ) to provoke a suprised reaction from the reader. Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions is similar to this; taking adult concepts of the dying American dream and the faults of modern society and writing it in a simplistic, almost childlike way.

We do not wish to influence you to write a certain way, these examples are merely that: examples. They are not a set guidline for originality. That would be redundant. You are the only one with the ability to create an original piece of work, and we respect that. We just wish for you to write to the best of your imagination, and not to the best of someone else’s. Peace out everyone.

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