On Originality

Something interesting happened yesterday. I was perusing the reviews of Limbus, Inc. and I came upon one that was quite fascinating. It was a so-so review—three stars—but in reference to my story they noted that they were able to predict the ending because it reminded them exactly of a movie they had seen. In the interest of not spoiling the film for everyone else, they declined to name it. Intrigued, and unable to figure it out, I sent them a message. They were kind enough to respond, and they told me the movie that it reminded them off.

And I got to tell you, after they named it, I saw the resemblance. So much so, that I’m not going to name it here, either, lest I ruin the story for you. But the most interesting thing of all? When I wrote the story, I had not seen this movie. And even though I knew something of its plot, it never entered my mind. Not once. Not at all.

I think there’s a valuable lesson there for writers. Of course, you don’t want your work to be derivative. You don’t want it to be just like everything else that is out there. But when it comes to originality, you can’t worry about it too much. You can’t obsess over it. Cause no matter how original you are being, it’s probably the case that it’s been done before, at least in some way.

All you can do is tell the story you’ve got, and make it as scary or romantic or funny as it can possibly be. 

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