Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tip O'Day #332 - Are There Any New Ideas?

Guest blogger Ben Drake on a writer’s influences.

My first memory of the original “Star Wars” trilogy was the ending of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Then the waiting in line to get tickets for “Return of the Jedi” and watching that film in the movie theatre. Little did I know how much that movie would influence my life.

When I was in my twenties, a friend of mine gave me the book called Sidharthra by Hermen Hess. Reading this great book, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between the struggles of Sidharthra, and the challenges a Jedi must face, plus the rewards that accompany them. That got me wondering whether this book had a strong influence on George Lucas’ creation of “Star Wars,” specifically the concept of the force.

How much impact do the books we read, and the shows we watch, and the tunes we hear have on what we write? Is there even a chance of an original thought left for writers to write about?

Dixon says – I’ve heard it said there are only two stories: (1) someone goes on a journey, and (2) a stranger comes to town.
That’s a joke, of course, but still…
It’s hard to think of a story, or theme, or plot twist that hasn’t already been none to death. In the end, though, what’s important isn’t the subject matter, but rather your approach and execution. Sure, “West Side Story” was inspired by “Romeo and Juliet,” but didn’t the 1960s film feel every bit as fresh and energetic as the original must have seemed to Londoners at the Globe so many years ago?
When we read a children’s book about the Three Little Pigs – except it’s told from the point of view of the Big Bad Wolf – we recognize it’s not an original story, but we still chuckle at the creativity of the author and the unexpected approach. In fact, I've found it can be an interesting exercise to take a well-worn story and try to "stand it on its head" so it becomes a new and fresh concept.

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