Writing, Among Other Things

Why you should not worry about being Unique?

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A few years back, I was narrating a story I was working on to a friend. After patiently listening to my story, he suddenly sat up straight, and asked, “Have you copied it from somewhere? It sounds like something I have read before.”

You think that you have come up with a great story, and your friend accuses you of Plagiarism. There are very few things in life, let me tell you, that can irritate you more than such an accusation.

I, naturally, asked my friend about the part of my story that sounded copied.

“All of it,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. Then he continued to tell me how my story was a copy of the so many stories he had read before.

“Your story has a hero, who gets into trouble with a few bad guys, and in the end manages to solve all of his problems easily. Isn’t that how all stories go?”

For a while, I was troubled by what he said, because what he said was true.

I had to ask myself how my story was different from the so many others that have been written before me.

Eventually, however, I saw light, and realised that the search for uniqueness is something that may have ended many a writer’s careers.

The Fact is: There is almost nothing that has not been written before.

Maybe, if you keep writing long enough, you may be able to write something truly unique, but till then you will have to make do with whatever you can write. If you keep waiting till you come up with something unique, your wait may well last forever.

Stories are like finger prints.

On the face of it all fingerprints seem alike, but the reality is that the six billion people on our planet have unique fingerprints, and no two people have the same finger prints.

Similarly, the basic ideas behind the stories we write may be similar, but each story becomes unique when we add our own touches to the story. These touches are a result of our life experiences, and our reaction to these experiences. All of us come across different situations in life, and the way we deal with these situations is also different.

When we begin to use these experiences in our writing, our stories start becoming unique. We may take a familiar plot, and add to it our own style, and the result would be unique.

An excellent example of this phenomenon can be seen in James Cameron’s Avatar. The basic premise of the movie is nothing special – the rogue hero infiltrates the enemy camp, falls in love with the enemy, finds true love, has a change of heart and, in the end, good defeats evil.

However, anyone who has seen the movie will definitely agree with me when I say that the movie was something that none of us had ever seen before.

So, stop worrying about trying to be unique, because whatever you write in your own style will automatically be unique. Wouldn’t you agree?

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  1. Agreed ! I think because of internet and data overload every thing seems to be copied from somewhere !

    some times it feels like people imagination is dead , nice post liked it ..

  2. @kalyan Quite often, we find that the materiel we find on the Internet is actually copied from somewhere else, but we alone can be the judge of how original our writing is.

  3. Very well said, my friend. Anyway, we (= the writers) are our own first readers and thus our own first “judges”. And more often than not, in my case, I come up with a story after having heard the line of a song or a bit of news on telly, so I know I’m “copying” something anyway (either the theme of a song, or something taken from real life). And I know it’ll be up to me to give a whole new life & form to that story in order to make it “unique”. So I absolutely agree with you that it’s almost impossible to “invent” something new in terms of stories themselves; and that thus it’s necessary to “re-invent” the storytelling itself.

  4. Good article. I do agree.

  5. @Dieter I think that line of the song, or that bit of news, can be called “inspiration”, and every writer needs a bit of inspiration every now and then.

    @Jimmy I am glad you agree.

  6. I completely agree — especially about Avatar. When I finished the movie, I thought “Well, that was pretty much Pocahontas in outer space…but unlike anything else I’ve ever seen!” I think I’ve watched that movie 100 times since then.

    Anyway, it does bother me at times that my plot is pretty basic and common. “Young girl discovers new and exciting powers and sets out to stop the evil creatures attempting to take over her world.” Pretty much the by-line of every fantasy/sci-fi book or movie out there. When I thought of it along those lines, I questioned my belief in whether or not the story was as unique as I’d been thinking it was. I even pictured myself pitching the idea to someone, and finishing that sentence with “…but it’s not as cliche as it sounds!”

    The fact of the matter is, the uniqueness of my story does not lie in the root plot-line, but, rather, in the details. I find that uniqueness is a lot like the devil that way.

    Beautiful article. I loved all the points you made and truly appreciate the time you took to post it. Have a great day, and happy writing!

  7. @Kyla Thanks for the liking the article. I completely agree with you in that the story does not entirely lie in the plot-line, but also in the details that we, the writers, fill in.

  8. I was examining some of your content on this internet site and I believe this internet site is really instructive! Keep posting.

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