Consider if you will, the concept of original thought. Can one ever have a truly original thought, or is it only going to be a reflection of an image presented to them? Think to media, has there been an original, completely original book or movie that you read/saw in the last 6 months? It does all seem to be variations of the same themes or differently pairing previously established elements. With this in mind one questions why we create, if we cannot create something new. I am reminded of how Bukowski demanded in “So You Want To Be A Writer” (excellent piece) if we had nothing to say, that we say nothing. He is not wrong, much of the market today is flooded with repetition, the regurgitation of old ideas, hoping desperately no one will notice. Oscar Wilde is quoted as having said “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” With this too, I must agree, let us pull the two together.
We produce crap because we insist on remaining in safe places. We believe a thing is expected of us and we produce. That is no reason to write. Write because you need to. Public service announcements aside, how can one produce something new, if there is no original thought?
In truth, we cannot. What we can do is observe a thing from an unexplored angle. Repetition kills a piece, no matter its form. (There are certain forms of poetry in which repetition is a chosen element of delivery, but that’s not the topic at hand.) Avoid cliché, it stands out like ‘a sore thumb’. Idioms should be avoided. If you must, create your own but make it unique. Avoid the repetition of words or themes. If you must select a standard form for your story, say, unlikely hero faces daunting circumstances, is forced into messianic role, that’s fine. It’s certainly not new, but it has been done repeatedly because it works as a solid model. It just doesn’t work if you write the same story everyone else has. Make it your own. We love Tolkien because we see the world he created. We love Asimov because we see the worlds he did. Show your reader something they haven’t seen, even if it’s only your view on something. If you want to be an unforgettable writer, show them something they won’t forget.