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What is it that needs to be original? (No, it’s not the story)

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 5, 2016

The old frenetic push to any creator to be ‘original’- especially, though not limited, in literature, in comics and the arts in general is nothing new. It pretty much is the first question anyone has when trying to assess a work of art: is it original?

Often, for the answer to that to be yes in narrative works of art like novels or comics, we look to their story, their plot.

However, several works that have been labelled (very deservedly) as ‘original’ don’t actually have a truly original story or plot (i.e. one that has never been created before). From the acclaimed graphic novel Persepolis by Satrapi to mainstream comics like Millar and McNiven’s Nemesis to Jason Aaron’s Scalped, if we look at their plot lines, we will easily see that every single one has been done before in the world of literature and comics, even. (Let us not speak of movies, with originals such as Inception or Toy Story or Coraline that deserve their acclaim but not for their plot)

Where, then, lies their originality, and the acclaim that goes with it?

Opinions and analyses may vary, but in my personal opinion, what makes a work original and truthful is not the plot that unravels (literally or figuratively) therein, but rather in the uniqueness that the creator allows to seep in their work from their own selves.

From any angle we look at it (unless we’re statisticians or sociopaths) no two human beings are the same, even if they are clones of each other, from biology to personality to, of course, experiences. That makes the way we see the world, and the way we approach it the one uniqueness about us that, if we use it correctly, yields originality regardless of our work’s plot.

The common denominator in all the examples I referred to earlier is that the creators were exploring something important to them (or fun or titilating even) while creating their work- be it their personal experiences, history, culture, fears and vices or their personal questions- from the trite to the existential. And their need to explore that was so great, that they persevered into creating a work of art as their means of exploration.

The product of such a process, conscious or not, cannot but be original.

What do you think? Is the above enough for originality? Are there other elements? Do you feel what you're creating is original in the context described above?

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Banes at 4:41AM, Nov. 6, 2016

About half my plots are lifted right from old sit coms. I'm looking to get away from that...or at least put more individuality in it. Another good insight, Tantz!

meemjar at 1:00AM, Nov. 6, 2016

Because I'm at a loss sometimes to find any originality left I take the easy way out and use parody and satire. After all most superheroes in the comic book industry are just variations on Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. And the three of them are just variations on the Pulp magazine heroes that preceded them, and so on...

moizmad at 1:14PM, Nov. 5, 2016

I don't call it copying, I call it appropriating!

KimLuster at 7:03AM, Nov. 5, 2016

Totally agree! I've read many stories with concepts and plots similar to mine, but none that hit on a personal level. It was one of the driving points to make the thing to begin with...!!

bravo1102 at 12:39AM, Nov. 5, 2016

Could not agree more. Every cake has flour, eggs and water but every cake is different. It's not the ingredients but how they are used.

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