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Lillith1991
04-30-2015, 09:06 AM
Basically what it says on the tin,because I'm really curious about how people view originality.I can't help but think the sort of "originality" (IE. Something 100% original with no conenction, inspiration, or any ties to another story.) that is strived for an touted as the highest manifestation originality, is nothing more than a no true scotsman fallacy. To me it says: You're not a real writer until you concieve of and write an idea that isn't the same as anything else except for genre. Which I think is complete and utter silliness, because it excludes genres like Historical Fiction entirely out of hand.

What's more is that I find such thinking tends to say ideas are meaningless, but treats them as precious. Which makes me wonder... Is Romeo & Juliet set in space, where the main couple is f/f or m/m, and is told through the eyes of Tybalt unoriginal just by virtue of being linked to the famous play? I don't think it is, because I see such things as being more a kin to genres with a more structured structure. All Romance have the exact same core premise, and the same core question. Mysteries too have the core premise and question that is pretty universal for the genre, only modified to fit the story. So why is a premise treated like this big thing if it really isn't? All Epic Fantasy can basically be broken down into the same steps used in mythology, to the point that if you used only the very innermost core premise, they'd look exactly the same.

Far as I'm concerned, originality is in execution. How things are presented. But I will admit I'm entirely biased because I like Historicals, Retellings, things based on something someone watched and said "I can do better than that with that plot, character archetype, technology etc."

StoryofWoe
04-30-2015, 09:47 AM
This Jim Jarmusch quote pretty much sums it up for me:
"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to." (MovieMaker Magazine #53 - Winter, January 22, 2004)

Osulagh
04-30-2015, 09:50 AM
I look for something fresh rather than original.

IMHO, all stories are rooted in the essence of being human. That's the root and from it sprouts and stems collected thoughts. I don't believe there's such as thing as original because we're trapped within the limitations of being human. We just don't know what's beyond that and we're always seeking different pathways (stems) in search for something new, but always grounded in ourselves because, unknown to us, we seek the same roots we try to run from.

Again, I look for something fresh. Something that hasn't been done, or something like it hasn't come up, for a while. That could be execution, a style, a specific concept. Popular trends or sudden popular things, I find, harbor this quality in certain degrees. ASoIaF, for example, where people die tragically with little to no heroic promise is rather "fresh" in an age of storytelling where audiences are swamped with heroism.

aruna
04-30-2015, 09:57 AM
I am pretty confident in distinguishing between original and non-original works, as I have done both. All of my novels, seven in all, are original. Even if some of the characters are "inspired by" real people and their lives, the stories are completely made up and have a trajectory ("plot") that is unlike any other story out there.. Which may seem like a wild and even arrogant claim, based on the OP, but it is true -- I would challenge anyone to read one of those books and tell me what other book has the same core premise, what book it is based on.

And then I wrote a new version of the Mahabharata, probably the oldest (and longest) book in existence. In this case, I took the core story and rewrote it in my own words. So I would not descibe my Sons of Gods as original.

Yet I don't think my "original" works are better than my non-original. Not by a long shot. I undertook SoG because I truly think it's the most magnificent story ever, and I merely restructured it, and told it in different words. It's my favourite of all my works, and I think the most important. So I think you are wrong to ascribe snobbism to those who claim to write original works. It's a completely different form of writing, but is not better or worse than a work that is a basic idea, rewritten in a different form. If I could save just one of my books for posterity, it would be SoG.

So I would say: it depends. A non-original work can be utterly brilliant, a fantastic story, even if it is completely modelled on something that has gone before.
An original work stands or falls on the story itself. It's good or bad because of what it is, not solely because it is "original".

Just my 2c.

Putputt
04-30-2015, 09:58 AM
I see originality in fiction as "something which is unexpected". It's not technically correct I guess, but that definition works for me. :)

aruna
04-30-2015, 10:04 AM
I think the debate on the words "original", "authentic", "fresh", is only semantics, a question of interpretation. Depending on individual perspective, they can all mean the same thing.

An original story to me is one thathas not been told before, in that form and with thos characters. The emotions, locations, charcater types etc are the ingredients: they may have gone before, but that particular story has not.

I don't consider it "stealing", for instance, to use the setting of a teenager growing up in 60's British Guiana.

It's just one ingredient that goes into the creation of a story that may or may not have been told before. So that Jim Jarmuth quote doesn't sum it up for me -- I think it's rather far-fetched, in fact.

aruna
04-30-2015, 10:05 AM
I see originality in fiction as "something which is unexpected". It's not technically correct I guess, but that definition works for me. :)

I can agree with this definition.

mccardey
04-30-2015, 10:09 AM
I can't help but think the sort of "originality" (IE. Something 100% original with no conenction, inspiration, or any ties to another story.) that is strived for an touted as the highest manifestation originality, is nothing more than a no true scotsman fallacy. To me it says: You're not a real writer until you concieve of and write an idea that isn't the same as anything else except for genre. Which I think is complete and utter silliness,

To be fair, I don't think I've ever heard that said.

If it has been said, i'd agree that it's very silly.

aruna
04-30-2015, 10:11 AM
To be fair, I don't think I've ever heard that said.

If it has been said, i'd agree that it's very silly.

Ditto.

Lillith1991
04-30-2015, 10:24 AM
I am pretty confident in distinguishing between original and non-original works, as I have done both. All of my novels, seven in all, are original. Even if some of the characters are "inspired by" real people and their lives, the stories are completely made up and have a trajectory ("plot") that is unlike any other story out there.. Which may seem like a wild and even arrogant claim, based on the OP, but it is true -- I would challenge anyone to read one of those books and tell me what other book has the same core premise, what book it is based on.

And then I wrote a new version of the Mahabharata, probably the oldest (and longest) book in existence. In this case, I took the core story and rewrote it in my own words. So I would not descibe my Sons of Gods as original.

Yet I don't think my "original" works are better than my non-original. Not by a long shot. I undertook SoG because I truly think it's the most magnificent story ever, and I merely wed restructured, and told in different words. It's my favourite of all my works, and I think the most important. So I think you are wrong to ascribe snobbism to those who claim to write original works. It's a completely different form of writing, but is not better or worse than a work that is a basic idea, rewritten in a different form. If I could save just one of my books for posterity, it would be SoG.

So I would say: it depends. A non-original work can be utterly brilliant, a fantastic story, even if it is completely modelled on something that has gone before.
An original work stands or falls on the story itself It's good or bad because of what it is, not solely because it is "original".

Just my 2c.

I'm not ascribing snobbism to the desire to be original, but to such hypocritical thinking. Because the same people that claim premises or ideas are so common and unimportant, will go on and on about how important they are when faced with something that takes a similar premise to something and takes it in an entirely different way than other people are going. Why is premise/idea suddenly important then?

Samsonet
04-30-2015, 11:10 AM
I have such a hard time with originality in my work. Like, I can tell myself that there's no copyright on ideas, and it's my work that makes it original, but at the same time there's a little voice going "Hey, you got that from this book. And look, now you're using another part of the same book for your other story. And hey, what would your favorite author think of you when they realize your story is like an AU version of theirs? Hm, Sammy? What then?"

And don't get me started on the voice that says retelling another story is "such a waste of imagination, Sam, you can do so much better!"

...I might have been having trouble with my inner editor recently...

aruna
04-30-2015, 11:46 AM
I'm not ascribing snobbism to the desire to be original, but to such hypocritical thinking. Because the same people that claim premises or ideas are so common and unimportant, will go on and on about how important they are when faced with something that takes a similar premise to something and takes it in an entirely different way than other people are going. Why is premise/idea suddenly important then?

This is very vague, Lilith. I don't know these people. Who are they? Can you give concrete examples? I can't really follow your argument. I'm a bit slow today...

For me it is all about the execution. Someone who story of Red Riding Hood in all its details -- ie more than the premise or idea; the exact story -- and rewrites it in an original and exciting adult version (I don't mean sexual with "adult") might not have been original, but is as good a writer as someone who makes up a new story from scratch.

Lillith1991
04-30-2015, 11:47 AM
I have such a hard time with originality in my work. Like, I can tell myself that there's no copyright on ideas, and it's my work that makes it original, but at the same time there's a little voice going "Hey, you got that from this book. And look, now you're using another part of the same book for your other story. And hey, what would your favorite author think of you when they realize your story is like an AU version of theirs? Hm, Sammy? What then?"

And don't get me started on the voice that says retelling another story is "such a waste of imagination, Sam, you can do so much better!"

...I might have been having trouble with my inner editor recently...

I call that the inner critic, and I think yours needs to meet mine. I've pretty much got her butt kicked, now she just let's me work and decide if something is meeting my standards of originality.

Lillith1991
04-30-2015, 12:02 PM
This is very vague, Lilith. I don't know these people. Who are they? Can you give concrete examples?

For me it is all about the execution. Someone who story of Red Riding Hood in all its details -- ie more than the premise or idea; the exact story -- and rewrites it in an original and exciting adult version (I don't mean sexual with "adult") might not have been original, but is as good a writer as someone who makes up a new story from scratch.

As in members on this forum you mean? If so, then no. The members of AW for the most part don't give me this impression. I've encountered it once or twice in my year on this forum, but I couldn't tell you names.

If you mean other people, then one of my writer friends definitly shares this view I'm describing that bugs me. And she isn't alone, because I've come across other people in real life who share the same view that also write. I think this is perfectly illustrated by how many new writers come to here and other forums extremely worried about originality, they didn't get the idea on their own. Where they got it from is from other people in real life they may know who write who have that attitude, or their fellow fans of some a genre that praise something original and could be better, while condeming something "unoriginal" but perfected and honed to razor sharpness.

I'll use the TV show Star Crossed, which was razor sharp in execution in my view and yet tends to get negative reviews. They did all these things that were inovative, or took something existing and did it in an invoative way. But yet, the complaint is about it being a R&J ripoff. Which it isn't, it's an adaptation that takes the essennce of it and uses it. The premise if you will. The only characters 100% for sure from R&J are the mcs Emery and Roman, you can't even tell with the others. You could possibly link Roman's father's death to the death of Mercutio if you really wanted because it serves a similar purpose in the narative, but he most certainly isn't just a rip off of the play Merc.

Anyway.... point is that it has all these awesome and original or rarely seen things included in it (How many SF TV shows have aliens which literally are racially diverse as us within a single species? I know that I've never seen that despite an extreme love of SF TV shows.) but people like to call it an R&J ripoff. And don't get me started on the movie Avatar, which gets the same treatment. All while these same people praise Peter Jackson for adding Tauriel despite the fact he felt he had to force a love triangle with her, instead of just letting her be a competent warrior elf that was female.

Jamesaritchie
04-30-2015, 10:44 PM
I'm not ascribing snobbism to the desire to be original, but to such hypocritical thinking. Because the same people that claim premises or ideas are so common and unimportant, will go on and on about how important they are when faced with something that takes a similar premise to something and takes it in an entirely different way than other people are going. Why is premise/idea suddenly important then?

Who says this? Premise/idea is never important because it is NOT premise and idea that takes something in an entirely different direction. If it were, you could easily point to any number of completely original and unique premises and ideas. It can't be done.

Going in a new direction does not make premise/idea important at all. Execution makes something original.

Jamesaritchie
04-30-2015, 10:44 PM
Ideas are completely meaningless, but I think we agree on one point. It's all in the execution. Nothing is as original as a good story, well-told.

But there's also another factor. There may be no new ideas, but new truths are discovered regularly. So are new ways of saying old things. Sometimes true originality is saying something old in a new way that lets people better understand it.

mccardey
04-30-2015, 11:10 PM
But there's also another factor. There may be no new ideas, but new truths are discovered regularly. So are new ways of saying old things. Sometimes true originality is saying something old in a new way that lets people better understand it.

I think this nails it.

Also - new characters are created all the time. Slot them into old premises or ideas and new things will happen.

Lillith1991
05-01-2015, 01:58 AM
I think this nails it.

Also - new characters are created all the time. Slot them into old premises or ideas and new things will happen.

My thougbts exactly! Move around when your "Mercutio" dies in the story, make some form of tech more important or less so than it was in such and such a book/movie/TV show, play up the parallels to racism by having an alien race be just like us and diverse as us. How you do that will be dictated by these new characters you've created, but it will happen if they're a character and not a simple chess piece.

gingerwoman
05-01-2015, 10:27 AM
I am pretty confident in distinguishing between original and non-original works, as I have done both. All of my novels, seven in all, are original. Even if some of the characters are "inspired by" real people and their lives, the stories are completely made up and have a trajectory ("plot") that is unlike any other story out there.. Which may seem like a wild and even arrogant claim, based on the OP, but it is true -- I would challenge anyone to read one of those books and tell me what other book has the same core premise, what book it is based on.

And then I wrote a new version of the Mahabharata, probably the oldest (and longest) book in existence. In this case, I took the core story and rewrote it in my own words. So I would not descibe my Sons of Gods as original.


It's still your own original work, a creative retelling of an ancient story isn't "unoriginal".

kuwisdelu
05-01-2015, 10:33 AM
True originality is writing something that you and only you can write.

Lillith1991
05-01-2015, 11:31 AM
True originality is writing something that you and only you can write.

And to piggy back off of this, sometimes that includes writing a retelling that only you can write because only you would think of the new element or take things down a new path. I write a lot of mixed white-Black, and Black characters which are LGBT. Mainly because I don't really see many of them in the genres I love, I want representation for myself and others like me, and I like writing it.

aruna
05-01-2015, 02:42 PM
True originality is writing something that you and only you can write.


And to piggy back off of this, sometimes that includes writing a retelling that only you can write because only you would think of the new element or take things down a new path.

Both these statements are correct.

In my case, I took one of the characters from the original story and slanted the whole book to move him from villain to anti-villain -- a character readers will love, with some extraordinary qualities. No other retelling of the same book did this -- and yet the basic story remains the same, and I would never claim my version as original. It's just been tweaked here and there, cut here and there, the words chosen carefully to bring about that end.

Lillith1991
05-03-2015, 05:26 AM
Both these statements are correct.

In my case, I took one of the characters from the original story and slanted the whole book to move him from villain to anti-villain -- a character readers will love, with some extraordinary qualities. No other retelling of the same book did this -- and yet the basic story remains the same, and I would never claim my version as original. It's just been tweaked here and there, cut here and there, the words chosen carefully to bring about that end.

I think it's a degree thing that we're talking about. Had you modified it so much people couldn't tell it was based on the original, I would likely call it original whether you felt it was or not. But only because there was so much more work put in than goes into more obvious adaptations and retellings.

blacbird
05-03-2015, 05:42 AM
or-i-gin-al-i-ty n. Something just like all the other stuff, but different.

-- Blacbird's Unabridged Dictionary,, 2015 ed.

caw

Ravioli
05-03-2015, 02:26 PM
I often have pseudo-deep discussions with myself on that exact topic. I think originality as a requirement is overrated, unless it is a very specific kind of originality.

I mean, even unoriginal stuff can be fun and enlightening.
Paulo Coelho's Alchemist didn't strike me as original, for example: dude gets bored with his life, wants more, sets out on journey, gets messed with, learns lessons, falls in love, moves on, finds dark, mysterious master, uses his knowledge against bad guys, learns profound lesson, the end. Done before. But it was still a good read and Coelho's style set it apart from similar reads.

We cannot invent anything from scratch. Nothing is 100% original. We can't even design a 100% original, new, never-seen-before creature, because things that are alive, things with any number of legs or lack thereof, sentient things, etc. have been done before.
We can't invent a story the likes of which have never been told before, because it always involves a development, even if it's just the character doing nothing but there being a beginning and an end.
Our brain will always use what it has already seen, no matter how little or how much of it.

All we do, all we invent and create, we do because our brain is capable of building from the memory of something we have encountered before. We couldn't even invent a 1-legged creature if we hadn't been introduced to the concept of legs before. We are all using inspiration to create, some specific - story A based on story B, or character C inspired by event D - and some naturally, such as creating a creature with 5 eyes because we've seen eyes on creatures before and know they go well together.

So while everything's been done before in terms of its elements/components, we can be original in execution or the overall, finished work. Like, giving it a twist. Of course, the twist element is also something you've seen before or else you wouldn't know it exists, but in combination with the other elements, it may be new-ish. For example, setting your callboy in an Arab village in a dystopian Israel and making his repeatedly described as gorgeous wife, short and fat. Fat women exist, Arab villages exist, dystopia exists, and sex work exists, but does the combination?
Lions exist and the color blue exists, but do blue lions?
Here is where originality can happen. To have the strawberries with mustard rather than whipped cream.

I still advise not to tell the agent that your project is of a never-seen-before quality/nature :D

gettingby
05-06-2015, 07:29 AM
I think originality is key to being a writer. Maybe it's just me, but I have no desire to write a story that has already been told. And I never question if anything I am working on is original enough.

rwm4768
05-06-2015, 08:00 AM
Ideas are completely meaningless, but I think we agree on one point. It's all in the execution. Nothing is as original as a good story, well-told.

But there's also another factor. There may be no new ideas, but new truths are discovered regularly. So are new ways of saying old things. Sometimes true originality is saying something old in a new way that lets people better understand it.


True originality is writing something that you and only you can write.

These about sum it up for me. Originality is not in the ideas you choose. It is in the story you tell with those ideas, in the way you write that story and the characters you write about.

Sure, there are some stories that are perhaps a little too close to others, but I believe that nearly every story is original in some way.

Let's take a common fantasy example: The Lord of the Rings and Terry Brooks's Sword of Shannara. Many people point out the countless similarities in the stories, but it didn't bother me because I found that there were vast differences in the way each author told the story.

Sure, Brooks wrote about a quest with elves and dwarves and all that, but I found that Tolkien's story was about the world more than the story itself, while Brooks's story was more of a fun fantasy adventure. I can appreciate both stories for what they did.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 08:06 AM
I think originality is key to being a writer. Maybe it's just me, but I have no desire to write a story that has already been told. And I never question if anything I am working on is original enough.

This isn't about whether it is important or not though, but what it is. I mentioned in another thread how Mysteries and Romances have what I like to call a core premise, but there's tons and tons of original stories in each genre despite them sharing the same genre specific core premise. Which to me clearly means that in those genres at least, it is how you modify the core premise to fit the subgenre and then the story itself.

You say you have no desire to write a story that's already been told, does that mean you would never write event based Historical Fiction, a story with vampires, a story about a crack addict etc. Because everything has been done to some degree or another, they just haven't been combined in every possible way.

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 08:35 AM
Basically what it says on the tin,because I'm really curious about how people view originality.I can't help but think the sort of "originality" (IE. Something 100% original with no conenction, inspiration, or any ties to another story.) that is strived for an touted as the highest manifestation originality, is nothing more than a no true scotsman fallacy. To me it says: You're not a real writer until you concieve of and write an idea that isn't the same as anything else except for genre.

To me, it's just a story that isn't an imitation of another story, with the names and places changed. It can even be almost the same as another story, as long as that's a coincidence. If the author never read the other story, that's the most air-tight defense, but maybe not necessary.


Which I think is complete and utter silliness, because it excludes genres like Historical Fiction entirely out of hand.

I suppose there are (at least) two types of historical fiction. There's stories where the central characters are real notable historical figures, and where you're weaving your story into the structure of the real facts, filling in the gaps and inferring the motivations. Correct, that's not original (and that's okay). There's also period pieces, which are about made-up people in that society. That can be original, just the same as a story about made-up people in present-day society. Only the setting is "unoriginal".


What's more is that I find such thinking tends to say ideas are meaningless, but treats them as precious.

How does it say ideas are meaningless?


Which makes me wonder... Is Romeo & Juliet set in space, where the main couple is f/f or m/m, and is told through the eyes of Tybalt unoriginal just by virtue of being linked to the famous play? I don't think it is, because I see such things as being more a kin to genres with a more structured structure.

Look, if you wanna have boy meet boy, and they commit suicide in the end, then that's not a rip-off of Romeo and Juliet. But if they come from rival alien races, and boy spouts poetry to boy on his space balcony, and boy's buddy is killed by enemy alien, for which boy takes revenge, and then is exiled by the galactic federation, that's unoriginal. Shakespeare doesn't have the patent on tragic love story, but there comes a point where there are too many similarities for it to be a coincidence.

More importantly, it's possible to question whether there are enough differences to make retelling the story worthwhile. When it comes to Shakespeare, retelling is pretty popular. They are quite good stories, so exploring all their permutations is pretty interesting. But even these permutations may be finite. Romeo and Julio? Probably worth doing. Probably been done. In space? Why? What does that have that the original story didn't?

That's what it comes down to. Why shouldn't you write an unoriginal story? Because if you do, why shouldn't I just read the original one instead? Which, in the case of Shakespeare, I can read for free. Now some people would say read both. I just think diversity has value: you'll gain more by reading something widely different than by reading something 90% the same.


All Romance have the exact same core premise, and the same core question.

But different answers. The question, "What is love?" is in little danger of running out of original answers.

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 08:45 AM
I'm not ascribing snobbism to the desire to be original, but to such hypocritical thinking. Because the same people that claim premises or ideas are so common and unimportant, will go on and on about how important they are when faced with something that takes a similar premise to something and takes it in an entirely different way than other people are going. Why is premise/idea suddenly important then?

Are you talking about people who say things like, "Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's execution that counts"? I think the real truth is that having good ideas and good execution is best. Good ideas with bad / nonexistent execution are worth nothing. Bad / nonexistent ideas with good execution are still actually pretty good sellers, but with good ideas they'd be better.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 09:31 AM
Are you talking about people who say things like, "Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's execution that counts"? I think the real truth is that having good ideas and good execution is best. Good ideas with bad / nonexistent execution are worth nothing. Bad / nonexistent ideas with good execution are still actually pretty good sellers, but with good ideas they'd be better.

Nope. I mean things like people who give the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes version of Romeo & Juliet praise for being well done, but turn their noses up at something that is from Tybalt's or Mercutio's POV with R&J as a subplot. Or something like the recent retelling that tells the story through the Nurse's eyes, at the same time as they're conviently ignoring that Shakespeare used an already existing piece of work when writing R&J. A poem to be exact with the exact same premise and a remarkably similar name to Romeo and Juliet.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 10:04 AM
Look, if you wanna have boy meet boy, and they commit suicide in the end, then that's not a rip-off of Romeo and Juliet. But if they come from rival alien races, and boy spouts poetry to boy on his space balcony, and boy's buddy is killed by enemy alien, for which boy takes revenge, and then is exiled by the galactic federation, that's unoriginal. Shakespeare doesn't have the patent on tragic love story, but there comes a point where there are too many similarities for it to be a coincidence.

Of course not, but this does beg the question of what a retelling is and when is something just based on something? Because just taking one or two aspects doesn't a retelling make in my experience reading them.


More importantly, it's possible to question whether there are enough differences to make retelling the story worthwhile. When it comes to Shakespeare, retelling is pretty popular. They are quite good stories, so exploring all their permutations is pretty interesting. But even these permutations may be finite. Romeo and Julio? Probably worth doing. Probably been done. In space? Why? What does that have that the original story didn't?

What does Verona have that another city doesn't? What does earth have that a spaceship or another world doesn't? No I'm not kidding, I'm serious. You seem to be advocating for use of the original setting in retellings, so I'm really wondering what is so special about them other than being one in which the original was told.


That's what it comes down to. Why shouldn't you write an unoriginal story? Because if you do, why shouldn't I just read the original one instead? Which, in the case of Shakespeare, I can read for free. Now some people would say read both. I just think diversity has value: you'll gain more by reading something widely different than by reading something 90% the same.

This supposes that people read and watch adaptations and retellings for the exact same reason they read or watch other things. Which is false. If I read something that's original, I'm not reading it for the same reason I read a retelling. Same if I watch something, Lion King is basically Hamlet. Hamlet played out with lions. I didn't know that as a kid, and most people scratch their head in utter confusion when learning that. It's so different from Hamlet on the surface that it may as well be considered original. But as someone who's read Hamlet several times, I enjoy finding those parallels when rewatching it with my nieces and nephews. And that's exactly what I enjoy when reading them too, seeing how the writer handled something, what they left in and what they've taken out etc. Particularly in ones that make me think on first reading, "that was nothing like the original at all."

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 11:29 AM
Of course not, but this does beg the question of what a retelling is and when is something just based on something? Because just taking one or two aspects doesn't a retelling make in my experience reading them.

I think we agree on that.


What does Verona have that another city doesn't? What does earth have that a spaceship or another world doesn't? No I'm not kidding, I'm serious. You seem to be advocating for use of the original setting in retellings, so I'm really wondering what is so special about them other than being one in which the original was told.

If Romeo and Juliet were first told in space, there would be no reason to retell it in Verona. I'm just saying we don't need both. You can do a retelling, but your change should have some impact that makes the story different in some significant way. If you're already doing a retelling for such a reason, and you also want to change the setting, fine.


This supposes that people read and watch adaptations and retellings for the exact same reason they read or watch other things. Which is false. If I read something that's original, I'm not reading it for the same reason I read a retelling.

I suppose you can have some specialized reason for reading umpteen variations on the same theme. In your first post, you seemed to lack clarity on what constituted a retelling vs. an original story. I suppose you've resolved that, because now you can recognize them and put them each to their best use.


Lion King is basically Hamlet. Hamlet played out with lions. I didn't know that as a kid, and most people scratch their head in utter confusion when learning that.

Probably because it isn't. Hamlet's father doesn't appear onstage with young Hamlet. In The Lion King, Nala does not commit suicide. It ends happily. The only Hamlet-like part is the middle when Simba returns to challenge his uncle the king who's killed his father. There are some remarkable similarities. I think it's too close to call whether it was "inspired by" or simply coincidence. Again, the idea of a relative usurping a throne is not Shakespeare's original idea. Credit for that goes to history, if anything.

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 11:37 AM
Nope. I mean things like people who give the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes version of Romeo & Juliet praise for being well done, but turn their noses up at something that is from Tybalt's or Mercutio's POV with R&J as a subplot. Or something like the recent retelling that tells the story through the Nurse's eyes, at the same time as they're conviently ignoring that Shakespeare used an already existing piece of work when writing R&J. A poem to be exact with the exact same premise and a remarkably similar name to Romeo and Juliet.

It doesn't sound like those people are discriminating based on original vs. unoriginal. None of those are original. Maybe they just liked one and didn't care for the others. Maybe it turns out Tybalt's point of view is not an interesting story. Maybe just because you can do a variation of a classic tale, doesn't mean you should.

mccardey
05-06-2015, 11:57 AM
Maybe just because you can do a variation of a classic tale, doesn't mean you should.

Although, of course, Shakespeare did. So you can. If you want.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 12:21 PM
If Romeo and Juliet were first told in space, there would be no reason to retell it in Verona. I'm just saying we don't need both. You can do a retelling, but your change should have some impact that makes the story different in some significant way. If you're already doing a retelling for such a reason, and you also want to change the setting, fine.

You're dismissing setting out of hand here it seems, which I find foolish. You can't just take even Romeo & Juliet, and set it in space or a secondary world without thinking of how the setting effects the events of the story. Heck, you can't just take it and set it now without forethought in how the story is effected by the setting change. Setting changes things, it can mean you can't have a direct analogue to the play and have to find a new thing to fill the same narative space. I would go so far as to say that setting is the unsung MC of ANY story, whether something original or a retelling.


I suppose you can have some specialized reason for reading umpteen variations on the same theme. In your first post, you seemed to lack clarity on what constituted a retelling vs. an original story. I suppose you've resolved that, because now you can recognize them and put them each to their best use.

There's no suppose about it. If you ask people who enjoy retellings why they read them, they'll likely tell you some variation of enjoying new takes on the familiar. In my case, I also like analyzing differences and similarities. I like finding stories that do a certain aspect of things in a way very few or no other story has done it. For example, I would completely read something that is Alien/Predator meets Romeo & Juliet. Or a straight up Horror Romance version of Romeo and Juliet, because that's something you don't see much of. I'm less interested in something that retells it from the POV of the Nurse or another character when it keeps the Verona setting, unless that's futuristic Verona or contemporary Verona.


Probably because it isn't. Hamlet's father doesn't appear onstage with young Hamlet. In The Lion King, Nala does not commit suicide. It ends happily. The only Hamlet-like part is the middle when Simba returns to challenge his uncle the king who's killed his father. There are some remarkable similarities. I think it's too close to call whether it was "inspired by" or simply coincidence. Again, the idea of a relative usurping a throne is not Shakespeare's original idea. Credit for that goes to history, if anything.

Nope, they admit to using Hamlet as more than simple inspiration. I think what you're trying to get at and what I forgot it was, is an adaptation. Which would be why it skipps the suicides, it's Hamlet in cartoon form and for kids. I've compared the two numerous times, it changes some of the events but keeps the same basic sequence and themes found in the play.

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 05:03 PM
You're dismissing setting out of hand here it seems, which I find foolish. You can't just take even Romeo & Juliet, and set it in space or a secondary world without thinking of how the setting effects the events of the story.

Not out of hand. I said it's okay to do a retelling if the change you make is relevant. If you can show how being in space affects the theme, or characters' emotions, or something, then okay. I'm just not seeing it. I'm just seeing things like Juliet could be cryogenically frozen to appear dead instead of taking a potion. That doesn't really make any difference.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 05:37 PM
Not out of hand. I said it's okay to do a retelling if the change you make is relevant. If you can show how being in space affects the theme, or characters' emotions, or something, then okay. I'm just not seeing it. I'm just seeing things like Juliet could be cryogenically frozen to appear dead instead of taking a potion. That doesn't really make any difference.

Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. You can't exactly just boot the Romeo stand-in off the ship for example, he'd either have to hide in some way or be sent to the brig. Putting him in the brig fills a similar narative role to his banishment, but only works if the ship isn't one of those huge deathstar sized things. If it's planetoid in shape and size he still can't be banished, which means he has to hide. And hiding will likely complicate things even further.

Or if for example you set the story in D.C. featuring two young men, one Black and the other Hispanic who are members of rival gangs. Forgive the cliché, but it is helping me prove a point. By choosing those ethnic groups and that particular subculture, you have to contend with the machismo factor and increased homophobia present in all three communities. Then you have to deal with things like the expense of living in D.C., which would directly effect them both and how they view things. It will even change what events are possible to carry over from Shakespeares adaptation of the poem, because some won't make sense anymore and others will need to be extremely heavily modified.

Far as I can tell, you aren't doing any real in depth thinking on this. If you were you would see the complications setting it in a spaceship, modern D.C., modern London etc. would present to the writer. Which only leaves me with the continued beliefe you're dismissing it out of hand, whether you give someone leave to write what they want or not.

morngnstar
05-06-2015, 06:20 PM
Far as I can tell, you aren't doing any real in depth thinking on this. If you were you would see the complications setting it in a spaceship, modern D.C., modern London etc. would present to the writer.

It's not my job to. It wasn't my idea to write such an adaptation. If you think you have a groundbreaking idea for it, go for it.

Lillith1991
05-06-2015, 07:16 PM
It's not my job to. It wasn't my idea to write such an adaptation. If you think you have a groundbreaking idea for it, go for it.

I never said I wanted ro write it. And if you're going to claim to not see any signifigant way in which setting would change an idea like that, then it IS your job to do so in so much as it proves your point. If you don't, then you are dismissing setting out of hand.

jjdebenedictis
05-06-2015, 08:14 PM
New ideas are just old ideas stapled together in a new way. I think you start to impress your audience (and hence get the label "original") when you show them how well you can jigsaw the old ideas together, i.e. how many new connections you can forge between them.

For example, there's an old Canadian horror movie called Ginger Snaps that takes some old ideas -- werewolves, teens -- and starts drawing parallels between turning into a werewolf and the changes that a kid experiences at puberty.

What makes the film so incredibly original is that it shows SO MANY parallels -- it's kind of shocking how well it all fits together. Sprouting hair in strange places; growing a tail while also growing breasts; the grossness of bloody kills and with the grossness of menstruation; the confusion of hungering for human flesh and the confusion of feeling sexual desire (at one point, the young woman who is turning into a werewolf says to a young man, "wouldn't you like to be inside me?" and you reeeeeally don't know which sort of "inside" she means.)

So to me, originality is not refraining from using old ideas but rather building new connections between them.

gettingby
05-07-2015, 12:15 AM
This isn't about whether it is important or not though, but what it is. I mentioned in another thread how Mysteries and Romances have what I like to call a core premise, but there's tons and tons of original stories in each genre despite them sharing the same genre specific core premise. Which to me clearly means that in those genres at least, it is how you modify the core premise to fit the subgenre and then the story itself.

You say you have no desire to write a story that's already been told, does that mean you would never write event based Historical Fiction, a story with vampires, a story about a crack addict etc. Because everything has been done to some degree or another, they just haven't been combined in every possible way.

I disagree that this is not about whether originality is important because we are talking about originality, and I do think it's important. I fail to see how your examples can not be original stories. Sure, there have been things written about crack addicts, but if I write a story about a crack addict, that doesn't mean it won't be original. Yes, I did not invent crack addicts or vampires, but that doesn't mean works involving those kind of characters can't be original. You are talking about a type of character not a story. And just because a story is set in WWII doesn't mean that story has been told or done before. It sounds like you are saying all those types of stories are the same and unoriginal. That is simply not true. For me, personally, I think that if a writer is worried about originality, there might be a good reason to worry.

You started this thread saying:


Far as I'm concerned, originality is in execution. How things are presented. But I will admit I'm entirely biased because I like Historicals, Retellings, things based on something someone watched and said "I can do better than that with that plot, character archetype, technology etc."

I do feel that if you take someone else's plot because you think you can do better, that's not very original. I'm not a writer because I want to retell stories that have already been written. I write my own.

Usher
05-07-2015, 12:47 AM
I'm original. Nobody else has read all the same stories, watched the same TV shows, had the same life experiences and they all go into making who I am

As long as I am not trying to be like another then my work won't be. Although I don't mind pinching ideas and making them my own. It has been a surprise that my most "original" ideas according to those that read my work are usually the ones I know exactly where they came from.

Liosse de Velishaf
05-07-2015, 04:01 AM
I'm with kuwi. I also agree with the execution idea. To be totally original, you'd have to like, write in a language you made up about a world that couldn't exist in our universe about some unique race with totally alien philosophy.

So, yeah, the threshold is actually a bit lower than perfect "originality".

Lillith1991
05-07-2015, 06:45 AM
I disagree that this is not about whether originality is important because we are talking about originality, and I do think it's important. I fail to see how your examples can not be original stories. Sure, there have been things written about crack addicts, but if I write a story about a crack addict, that doesn't mean it won't be original. Yes, I did not invent crack addicts or vampires, but that doesn't mean works involving those kind of characters can't be original. You are talking about a type of character not a story. And just because a story is set in WWII doesn't mean that story has been told or done before. It sounds like you are saying all those types of stories are the same and unoriginal. That is simply not true. For me, personally, I think that if a writer is worried about originality, there might be a good reason to worry.

I'm not worried in the least actually, just curious. My point was that crack addict stories, vampire stories etc. tend to have quite a lot of similarities to each other, but people still claim they're original. I'm going to write the same ol' vampire, it's going to be the cliché Hollywood vampire only it will sparkle in the sun instead of burst into flame and some will have superpowers. I don't particularly find Meyers vampires original, twist or no twist. They take away a weakness and make the entire species a Mary Sue. I do like classic Hollywood vampires though, or vampires in the vein of Carmilla and Dracula despite them being able to go out during the day. If a writer uses a different sort of vampire instead of the typical western kind, one connected to Indonesian folklore, Indian folklore etc. I appreciate their attempt at originality.



I do feel that if you take someone else's plot because you think you can do better, that's not very original. I'm not a writer because I want to retell stories that have already been written. I write my own.

So, are you saying that Brandon Sanderson is unoriginal? The man took the basic plot, pacing etc. of just about every heist novel and movie, then figured out what it would look like in a secondary world Fantasy setting and wrote a book about exactly that. I haven't read the book, but I've heard it is exceptionally good.

You seem set on the idea that plots and ideas are original, but I disagree with you. I can name several genres and subgenres which have a basic plot structure.

morngnstar
05-07-2015, 07:51 AM
My point was that crack addict stories, vampire stories etc. tend to have quite a lot of similarities to each other, but people still claim they're original.

Well, crack addict stories will have some similarities, because crack has pretty much the same physiological effect on all humans. So those effects will be a common thread. Also certain social outcomes are likely results following on the physiological effects. But of course you can write an original story about a crack addict. A story about an early-retired dot-com millionaire who bums around the world on his sailboat and gets hooked on crack would be vastly different from one about a middle-class divorced mom hooked on crack. Originality lies in a degree of difference, not the degree of similarity.


I'm going to write the same ol' vampire, it's going to be the cliché Hollywood vampire only it will sparkle in the sun instead of burst into flame and some will have superpowers. I don't particularly find Meyers vampires original, twist or no twist. They take away a weakness and make the entire species a Mary Sue.

The originality in Twilight vampires has nothing to do with their powers or weaknesses. It has to do with their being treated as more dreamy than menacing.


If a writer uses a different sort of vampire instead of the typical western kind, one connected to Indonesian folklore, Indian folklore etc. I appreciate their attempt at originality.

I don't regard imitation of a less familiar trope as original. Original would be conceiving your own fantasy race that has an original origin, powers, weaknesses, temperament, and laws. Or you can be mostly to completely unoriginal in your choice of race, and put all your originality in the sequence of events that happens to the characters. After all, plenty of authors succeed in writing original works despite the very cliche and unoriginal choice of casting bipedal hairless primates in nearly all the roles.


So, are you saying that Brandon Sanderson is unoriginal? The man took the basic plot, pacing etc. of just about every heist novel and movie, then figured out what it would look like in a secondary world Fantasy setting and wrote a book about exactly that. I haven't read the book, but I've heard it is exceptionally good.

Working within a genre, or crossing them, is not unoriginality. There is not "the" one basic plot shared by all heist stories. There is only one essential thing they all share: something to be stolen. They may mostly share some elements, such as a team, possibly of experts in different skills. But the means of entry, avoiding detection, getting away, and consequences of success or failure are unlikely to all be repeated between any two independently-conceived works.


You seem set on the idea that plots and ideas are original, but I disagree with you. I can name several genres and subgenres which have a basic plot structure.

You seem committed to the notion that there exists no example of originality. It depends of course on your definition of original. If it means having absolutely nothing in common with anything else, then you would be right. If it means having a great deal of differences, you're wrong. There's no disputing your choice of definition if you choose the former, except that to have a word defined in such a way that there are no examples is kind of a waste of a word. You're missing out on the opportunity to discuss originality and its value or faults with those of us who use the latter definition.

Lillith1991
05-07-2015, 08:40 AM
Well, crack addict stories will have some similarities, because crack has pretty much the same physiological effect on all humans. So those effects will be a common thread. Also certain social outcomes are likely results following on the physiological effects. But of course you can write an original story about a crack addict. A story about an early-retired dot-com millionaire who bums around the world on his sailboat and gets hooked on crack would be vastly different from one about a middle-class divorced mom hooked on crack. Originality lies in a degree of difference, not the degree of similarity.

Sounds to me like the originality is in the execution, which is what I've been saying all along.



The originality in Twilight vampires has nothing to do with their powers or weaknesses. It has to do with their being treated as more dreamy than menacing.

Other vampires before and since have been treated in exactly the same way, there's nothing original about her vampires. I've read a lot of vampire stories, all the way from making them monsters to making them sympathetic and dreamy. Anne Rice in her early books managed to make her vampires both monsters AND also sympathetic and dreamy.



I don't regard imitation of a less familiar trope as original. Original would be conceiving your own fantasy race that has an original origin, powers, weaknesses, temperament, and laws. Or you can be mostly to completely unoriginal in your choice of race, and put all your originality in the sequence of events that happens to the characters. After all, plenty of authors succeed in writing original works despite the very cliche and unoriginal choice of casting bipedal hairless primates in nearly all the roles.

Weren't you just saying originality is a matter of degrees of difference? Why the sudden backtracking when I mentioned using vampires from other cultures, that are rarely if ever used in the west? How is it different than your example of the different sort of crack addict stories, seeing as using them presents different challenges from the Hollywood vampire just like a millionair crack addict and middle class housewife with kids presents different challenges?


Working within a genre, or crossing them, is not unoriginality. There is not "the" one basic plot shared by all heist stories. There is only one essential thing they all share: something to be stolen. They may mostly share some elements, such as a team, possibly of experts in different skills. But the means of entry, avoiding detection, getting away, and consequences of success or failure are unlikely to all be repeated between any two independently-conceived works.

Heist novels and movies don't have a basic plot? Sorry, but they do. Tell someone such and such novel revolves around a heist or a movie does, and despite not having read it or seen it, if they've read or seen others they can tell you the structure the plot is likely to take. And that is because they do in fact have a basic structure that the vast majority of hiest stories regardless of medium adhere to. Call them basic elements if you want, but they're a structure shared with other stories of the same kind.

I will also add, that I asked gettinby that question because they seemed stuck on the idea that a basic premise is what is original. A heist novel by that way of thinking can't be original despite execution, because it shares a plot with others of the same kind. I personally do think a Horror Romance that takes the basic structure of R&J is original, precisly because we haven't seen that plot structure in that genre before. Which of course means I also think Sanderson's crossing of heist structure with a Fantasy setting is pretty original and genius. Degrees of originality like you claimed at the start.


You seem committed to the notion that there exists no example of originality. It depends of course on your definition of original. If it means having absolutely nothing in common with anything else, then you would be right. If it means having a great deal of differences, you're wrong. There's no disputing your choice of definition if you choose the former, except that to have a word defined in such a way that there are no examples is kind of a waste of a word. You're missing out on the opportunity to discuss originality and its value or faults with those of us who use the latter definition.

Clearly you either haven't been reading what I've written or are actively trying to misunderstand me, that is far from my deffinition. I'm all about degrees of variation and how execution and not idea is what makes something original, simply because I can watch or read something and break it down to its most basic genre and subgenre premise.

morngnstar
05-07-2015, 09:01 AM
Sounds to me like the originality is in the execution, which is what I've been saying all along.

That's not what I'm saying. Originality is in the different events and characters in two stories that have nothing in common other than one or more characters is addicted to crack. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet in dactylic hexameter will have different execution, but not be original.


Weren't you just saying originality is a matter of degrees of difference? Why the sudden backtracking when I mentioned using vampires from other cultures, that are rarely if ever used in the west?

Originality is degrees of difference from all other examples, not just well-known ones. Well, you can be original if you have accidental similarity to something you didn't know about, but that wasn't your scenario, I think.


Heist novels and movies don't have a basic plot? Sorry, but they do. Tell someone such and such novel revolves around a heist or a movie does, and despite not having read it or seen it, if they've read or seen others they can tell you the structure the plot is likely to take.

You're failing to distinguish between "has the same plot" and "has the same plot structure".

Lillith1991
05-07-2015, 09:43 AM
That's not what I'm saying. Originality is in the different events and characters in two stories that have nothing in common other than one or more characters is addicted to crack. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet in dactylic hexameter will have different execution, but not be original.

Mhmm, and am I to assume you'd say the same to Shakespeare if you could talk to him with regards to his almost completely ripping off a poem of the same name when writing Romeo & Juliet? Because anything less would be sheer hypocrisy.


Originality is degrees of difference from all other examples, not just well-known ones. Well, you can be original if you have accidental similarity to something you didn't know about, but that wasn't your scenario, I think.

You keep pulling in and out of focus. Focusing when it is something like crack addicts, but zooming out to the whole of fiction when it is vampires or something similar. Stop shifting the goal posts to suite your needs. You can't just declare a crack addict story original by virtue of the kind of person addicted, and then deny vampire stories are original compared to each other when a different sort of vampire than the standard one is used. They're either original compared to similar stories or they're not, anything less comes across exceedingly disingenuous.



You're failing to distinguish between "has the same plot" and "has the same plot structure".

Nope, I'm not. I've repeatedly mentioned things sharing the same basic or core plot. If you're referring to it as the same plot structure, that is perfectly fine with me. Doesn't stop the fact that it is surface things such as character and execution which make them original.

Samsonet
05-07-2015, 10:39 AM
I've been thinking about "original" retellings. And why Romeo and Juliet is "original", but Romeo and Juliet retellings aren't.

A villain from Leverage puts it like this:


Alfred Wallace created the theory of evolution years before Charles Darwin, but it’s Darwin’s theory of evolution. Nicola Tesla invented alternating current, but all the power companies are named after Thomas Edison. So why are Darwin and Edison famous? And Tesla and Wallace footnotes? Because history is written by the winners. You get your name on it first, you get it out there the most, then 20 years later, you invented it.

Personally, I think whether an "inspired by _____" work is original or unoriginal depends partly on the execution and partly on how the author was influenced by the other work and/or how they treat their story in relation to the other one. Sherlock Holmes, for instance, is "unoriginal" -- which I don't mean as a bad thing here --because he was based pretty heavily on C. Auguste Dupin, with no big twists to make him different. (At least as far as I remember. I haven't read either of them for a while.)

'Course, now that Sherlock is The Original Detective, there are a lot of characters based heavily on him, not to mention retellings of the stories Conan Doyle wrote, and sequels/prequels/etc. written about him. All of those stories are "original" in different ways: Sherlock Holmes in sneakers, a mouse detective, a modern-day Sherlock, a Sherlock that's pretty much just like Conan Doyle's except on a brand new adventure...

I've lost my train of thought. It was here somewhere...

Roxxsmom
05-07-2015, 01:07 PM
I have nothing to add about Romeo and Juliet or other retellings in particular, but I do think readers vary a great deal in how original they want their fiction to be. There's always an intersection between the familiar and expected and the original. Too similar to everything else, it's maybe dull and predictable, but too different, there's nothing to hang our hats on emotionally.

Stories that lack any recognizable tropes or familiar narrative structure or plot elements at all? They might leave most of us feeling as cold as dissonant music.

Actually, music is a good analogy. Nearly infinite combinations of notes, rhythms etc possible, but it relies on a finite number of chord progressions, beats, time signatures and so on. And if you hear music that's built on very different principles it sounds odd and alien, and it take time to get used to it. If you ever do.

I have a critting partner who is a brilliant writer, definitely got a literary style. He's gotten things published in Strange Horizons. But he's always pushing envelopes. His stories are fascinating, but they're not always the kind of thing I want when I read fantasy. But for him, it's the differences that are important. His stories are set in worlds that are a bit uncomfortable, not places where I'd necessarily feel at all at home, or even want to be a guest in, or even a tourist. Sometimes I'm in the mood for that sort of thing, but sometimes I enjoy reading stories set in worlds where I can imagine myself sitting at a table drinking ale with someone I can relate to while looking out at a nice garden.

One of the common set of comments I've seen about Hurley's Mirror Empire (by people who don't like it) is that the world, with its carnivorous vegetation, blood magic, tears in the fabric of the world, cannibalism, grafted weapons, and odd satellites etc. is that it's slimy--not the kind of place you can really imagine yourself adapting to, let alone thriving in. I like the book, but I can see why some don't. It's certainly not something I'm always in the mood for.

So coming up with something that's more on the truly unique end of the spectrum (as much as anything ever can be) is risky too. Readers are often like little kids, sitting there calling out, "This is the part where they fall in love," or "This is the part where he gets hurt," or "This is the part where the bad guy gets it."

It's comforting to be able to guess where the story might be going and to not be too far wrong. It's comforting to read stories set in places you'd like to go that are populated with people you'd like to meet. Not always and not for everyone, but for many readers.

Bridging that gap between the expected and unexpected is darned hard for that reason.

morngnstar
05-07-2015, 05:05 PM
Mhmm, and am I to assume you'd say the same to Shakespeare if you could talk to him with regards to his almost completely ripping off a poem of the same name when writing Romeo & Juliet?

I'm not familiar with the poem so I don't know how similar they are. If the poem has lovers from rival factions, revenge for a friend's death, and a double-suicide based on apparent death of one of the lovers to escape a forced marriage, then I guess Shakespeare ripped it off.

Shakespeare's version might be the best because of execution, but that doesn't make it original. Like, I like Star Trek: The Next Generation better, but that will never make it The Original Series.

Lillith1991
05-08-2015, 04:02 AM
I'm not familiar with the poem so I don't know how similar they are. If the poem has lovers from rival factions, revenge for a friend's death, and a double-suicide based on apparent death of one of the lovers to escape a forced marriage, then I guess Shakespeare ripped it off.

Shakespeare's version might be the best because of execution, but that doesn't make it original. Like, I like Star Trek: The Next Generation better, but that will never make it The Original Series.

He took the poem and turned it into a play, it's an straight adaptation of the poem. And by straight I don't mean sexually, I mean in that the events, characters etc. are all taken from the poem.

eyeblink
05-08-2015, 04:10 AM
He took the poem and turned it into a play, it's an straight adaptation of the poem. And by straight I don't mean sexually, I mean in that the events, characters etc. are all taken from the poem.

Pretty much all of Shakespeare is derived from existing sources (or history). He just dealt with the material considerably better than his predecessors, which are largely forgotten now. Love's Labour's Lost is about his only original plot, and I don't see many people claiming that as his greatest work.

Lillith1991
05-08-2015, 04:42 AM
Pretty much all of Shakespeare is derived from existing sources (or history). He just dealt with the material considerably better than his predecessors, which are largely forgotten now. Love's Labour's Lost is about his only original plot, and I don't see many people claiming that as his greatest work.

I agree. I mean, sure I love his versions of things, but I'm aware that his plays are almost all retellings/adaptations of something else. His poems are much more original, the sonnets in particular I find. He wassnt this great master of originality in the long form, but so what? Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses.