Bright Idea — but not mine!

During the night I awakened and joined my characters in the better part of an hour’s discussion about an idea, a brilliant plot twist that would punch up the suspense in my story. The idea, unfortunately, didn’t make it through to the light of day. Normally when something occurs to me during the night I write it down because I know I won’t remember it in the morning. But by the end of the discussion I had already decided it wasn’t an original idea. It was only the lingering fragments of a dream — an idea gleaned from somewhere else, something recently read or viewed on television.

I know every plot idea has already been done before, and what counts is the unique fingerprint we place on its development. But this idea? It felt like a reflection of another one. I couldn’t quite pin down where it came from, but it definitely wasn’t mine. Such a shame. Under the cover of darkness… under my covers… it seemed so promising.

How do you know your stories are truly original, and aren’t simply mirroring one from among the multitude you’ve previously read?

~

“Writing is a struggle against silence.”

Carlos Fuentes

.

“The process of writing has something infinite about it.
Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.”

Elias Canetti

~  ~  ~

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4 thoughts on “Bright Idea — but not mine!

  1. I think you have to trust how it resonates. When you’re handling it in a unique way, you can feel it in your gut. In your case, you FELT the reflection rather than the knowing, and you went with it. Your subconscious always knows more than you do! ;)

  2. joylene says:

    One of my professors at the university said there is no such thing as an original plot. He said the Greeks had done them all. Not being an easy pushover, I checked. He was right. Look how many times Romeo & Juliette has been adapted? I guess it’s too late now, but I think it’s the characters that add originality to the story. If you have another dream like lastnight, save it. Use that unique imagination of yours to come up with some profoundly endearing characters, and you’ll be on a roll, I’m sure.

  3. Carol says:

    Devon, I like how you differentiate between the feeling and the knowing, but I’m not sure I like the idea of my smartypants subconscious being a know-it-all! ;)

    Joylene, that professor knew ‘of which he spoke’! Existing characters were there in the dream to discuss the possible plot twist. I discarded it, but not the characters; they’re going on to find a better twist of their own. I’m counting on it!

  4. Laura Best says:

    I have to admit, I’ve sometimes wondered if my wonderful idea is original or not. That said, it really is what we bring to the page so far as originality goes. Many books have similiar plotlines, but the writer makes us feel as though we’re dreading it for the first time. That’s were the real magic lies. :)

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