Originality in Plots

I want to give a little bit of background before this post and a HUGE spoiler alert, so if you want to keep reading, be aware that I try to keep all my posts related to a story/book I’ve read, and this one is no different. Especially since I talk about plot, I will give a lot away.

I just finished reading The Black Prism (Lightbringer Series, #1 of 3) by Brent Weeks. It was a very interesting read, and I think the reason why is the sheer amount of lies/deception and the creativity/originality involved in creating this book.

First, let me start by saying our world isn’t very original, which seems pessimistic, but when you have so many people living on this planet, and even so many people in one country or city, there’s bound to be commonalities that connect people, thoughts, and ideas together. For instance, when people decided vampires were popular, I swear every other book was about vampires. Same with zombies. There are popularity fads that will get picked up, and most of the time, the ideas are almost verbatim. Zombies eat people. Vampires avoid the daylight.

This is why I love creativity. I love originality. If you’re different, I’m impressed.

And this book is different, especially special. It’s typical a magic-wielding type of book, except the magic is light. And limits are connected to lifespans – you can only wield a definite amount of light, and after, you die. The characters, or drafters, granted with this ability usually have an affinity for a certain color and create objects out of this color. But, the objects have to fit the personality of the color. For instance, red is like anger and passion, so people with this affinity tend to be very passionate, easy-to-anger, and usually spawn flames since red is a flammable color.

This plot-point made the book easy to read. I was interested in the physics, the mechanics, the world built around this point.

And, I know a lot of people may be discouraged, thinking they can’t build something this complex because this is a whole new world that Weeks built. But, they don’t all have to be that big. There are plenty of common myths, like vampires, that you can use. And, they only take a little tweaking to make them yours.

For example, if I were to create an original story with vampires, let’s first examine the common preconceptions: burn in the sun (or afraid of light), drink blood, superhuman abilities like hearing/sight/speed/strength. To create this as a legend of mine, I can change a mechanic. What if instead of afraid of the sun, they were afraid of the moon and the sun thing was a lie they made up to misconstrue the human population?

What if instead of shape-shifting based on the moon’s cycle, werewolves changed based on a planet’s cycle, so it was a very rare occurrence. What if were-wolf packs were divided based on their celestial-shift patterns?

Originality in stories doesn’t have to be a big idea. It can be something as simple as taking an old idea and changing a piece to make it yours. But, I can tell you from my perspective – it makes a huge difference in your story.

Weeks, Brent. The Black Prism. London, UK: Orbit, 2013. Print.


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