Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bursting my bubble

Thinking about Thursday

       When I was fourteen and still openly dreaming of being a writer, my 8th grade English teacher made the off-handed comment,
"There are no original ideas left. Everything you can think of has been done in one form or another."

       In his defense, we were learning the three basic story conflicts
Man vs. Man
Man vs Nature
Man vs. himself

(See, Coach Washington, I remembered. You should be proud.)

        He didn't mean to imply that we were all doomed to repeating the same stories. But, that simple statement nagged at me for years. Was it possible ALL the stories of the world have already been told? 
Mine hadn't, of course. My ideas were original... right? 

       Now, 15 (okay, 20 plus) years later, it still echoes in my mind. Especially in moments of insecurity when I have visions of agents rolling their eyes at my manuscript thinking,
" I've heard it all before."  

      So, what do you think? Have all the stories been told?
And if they have, is that a terrible thing? Don't we read romance with the full knowledge it will end happily ever after? Don't we read mystery with the expectation the perpetrator to be caught and justice be served? Don't we feel cheated if the killer gets away or the couple doesn't get together? 

Do you take comfort in the same old stories or do you long for something with a twist? 

Be sure you stop by next week for Tell Me Your Story Tuesday.
I am featuring the fabulous 

She will be talking about her journey to publication as well as her latest release .38 Caliber Cover-Up. I can't wait!


Teri Anne Stanley said...

I think that there probably are a limited number of basic plots out there. But novels, even in on genre, were all the same, we wouldn't be reading so many of them! We wouldn't watch remakes of the SAME plot at the theater.
I think there is a fair amount of comfort in knowing what to expect in a particular genre. It's the details that make each story unique!

Lindsay Cummings author said...

twists! always twists!!

Anonymous said...

For me, it's all about the characters. I don't think there are tons of new things that can happen to people. But how the people deal with the things, is what attracts me. If I care about the people, If I suffer or laugh when they do.. That's what makes the difference.

Unknown said...

I've pondered the same question and I agree with Teri Anne "It's the details that make each story unique!" There might not be an original event but there can definitely be an original way in which we make it happen.

Dawn Alexander said...

Awesome responses, ladies! Thank you for weighing in. I agree completely it is about the characters and the details. And, as a mystery writer, I have to completely agree with Lindsay. TWISTS!

Alexander M Zoltai said...


The history of humanity shows Cycles. The beginning of a given cycle shows new growth of ideas and ways of living. I feel humanity is at the cusp of a new cycle...

So, to be bold, I'll proclaim the birth of new plot-forms :-)