Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reimagined Ideas Or "Why 'Avatar' Sold Out Theatres"

Reading some threads on AbsoluteWrite.com today, a strange revelation struck me.

An aspiring author was expressing woe at their current situation. The author in question has a work in progress they felt was going to be new, fresh and exciting. They had poured their heart and soul into the piece, seeing the concept as marketable and original.

That is, until they checked around and found a bestselling author was working on a devestatingly similar piece - at least from what they garnered from a few short publicized blurbs and synopsises. Their million-dollar baby was seemingly already being done, their innovative ideas not so original after all.

The once-hopeful writer was crushed to think that their efforts had been in vain, feeling that this upcoming release would ruin their own chances of writing a meaningful, marketable piece of fiction. The cry for help made me think, and this is what I came up with.

Ideas Done to Death

They abound.

Think "Serial Killer is Hunted," "End of the World," or "Girl Meets Boy Who's More Than He Seems." They're all well-beaten dead horses that are constantly rehashed and rereleased by authors and screenwriters alike.

However, that's just the thing - they get released. We get them for public consumption and we lap them up eagerly, almost seeming to revel in the familiarity of the situations rife with new twists.

Take James Cameron's Avatar for instance. The basic premise of it is as old as North American colonization. It's a (taken to the extremes) story about a peaceful, "non-white" civilization, living completely at one with nature in a lush paradise that alien corporations seek to exploit, paralleling the 'invasion' of the continent by European settlers and their relentless pursuit of wealth.

How many times has this been done in different ways? Countless.

How did Avatar do at box-office? Well, there are threads dedicated to (and I shit you not) "Support for Depression Sufferers Disheartened Because Pandora Doesn't Exist." James Cameron managed to elicit not only a true reponse from people, but people are actually depressed because the world he created is so perfect, yet unattainable. Seems pretty good for a rehashed idea taken in a new light.

Fresh Lights

It doesn't seem to matter whether an idea is old as time itself if presented appropriately and creatively. Psycho started the trend of insane, derranged killers who look normal on the outside but are festering beneath the surface. Night of the Living Dead brought us the first true zombie apocalypse theory that has spawned an entire genre - one which my upcoming novel GREY DOGS & THE WILLOW fits into nicely.

In the end, it's not what you write about, I think it's what you write.
If as an emerging novelist I have any advice for others, it's this. Finish the work, deal with it later.

You never know, your work may have that gleam of interest that others do not, even if you don't see it outright.

Happy penning.

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