A3Writer: Originality
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Originality

     One of the most difficult things about writing is trying to come up with something original. There are only so many stories, after all, and finding something new to say is difficult. My first fantasy novel was one such where I realize now I had failed to be original. The idea of a group of heroes going off on an adventure has been done to death. I didn't have anything to add to the genre with that one. For now I've shelved it, and moved on to better prospects. Perhaps one day I will pull that work off the shores of the Lethe, but now I have others boarding the ferry.
     With Matt I feel I do have an original angle. Many of the specimens in this type of genre have two elements in common. The first is that there is some kind of alternate history, which allows for changes in the world. Usually this change makes it feasible for the existence of the supernatural to be well known. These can be seen in Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris. These seem to be MacGuffin-like in order to propel the world of the plot forward, which is just fine. As a sci-fi geek, I quite enjoy alternate realities.
     The second feature is that the protagonists of the supernatural works all seem to possess supernatural powers themselves. Whether its Anita Blake, Harry Dresden, or Sookie Stackhouse, they've all got some sort of supernatural mojo going for them. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's not, but they've got an edge that helps them when dealing with other elements of the supernatural.
     Matt has neither of these. His world, minus the fictional city, is this world where the public doesn't believe in these things, and Matt has few legitimate clients. The history I deal with is also not malleable. That's not to say I don't make up certain elements---as much of history slips through the cracks of time---but major events cannot be changed. This does limit me in one respect, being forced to comply with the world as it has been recorded---yet another reason why I have control over the city---but I also feel it grounds the work.
     As for mojo, Matt has his wits, what he knows (which generally is small compared to what he needs to know), and what his mentor taught him. A few small weapons that make him slightly dangerous is all he's got to work with, and never uses them for attack, but the last ditch effort to keep from being gruesomely killed. As for the why I've chosen him to be sans powers . . . well, I think I just got tired of everyone with a power. Perhaps I was more taken with the idea of a PI like Spade and Marlowe, doing what they could with what they had. They typically went up against pretty tough odds be they cops, mobsters, or deranged women, and still managed to pull it off. I figured Matt should have the same type of odds. He should be the underdog, but overcome because he's truly human, and not because he's got powers to rely on.
     Don't get me wrong. I respect what others who have come before have done. I might be inclined to do something like that some time, but for now I feel that these two major differences I have, have created an original character dealing with a familiar set of plots and ideas, which is about as close to originality as can be found, anymore.

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