Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stupid Writing Rules : It's All Been Done

By the ever opinionated E.C. Stacy

I hate Hate HATE hearing those apathetic words. Out of all the misconceptions that a writer will encounter, this one, I think, is the most damaging. And to fully illustrate how horrible this phrase is, I’ll begin by giving you this picture: what if a teacher said that to an artistic student?

As my cartoon segued, in 1980, a film about an archaeologist racing against Nazis to find the Ark of the Covenant hit the theaters to become a smash hit and beloved classic. Yes, George Lucas based Indy on the rugged heroes from 1930s matinee serials, but no one had ever used an artifact hunter and a religious treasure. It had NOT been done. Maybe that’s one of the reasons it was so successful…and copied.

Need something more recent? How about a wrongfully imprisoned journalist and a young tattooed and pierced detective with an attitude committed to finding the truth? Lisbeth Salander was a new kind of character, perfect for our growing counterculture in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

True, common elements can be found between two masterpieces. Stories rely on formulas to heighten tension and pique our interest. But saying it’s all been done is like giving up on humanity. And one cannot be in the arts or even associated with it and surrender the creative frontier.


Dean K Miller said...

Yes it has been done before, and will continue that way in the future. Some of it good, some of it not. Even "Dick and Jane" from the 60's era new reader books could use an update or two once is a while. It's still the same idea. Boy meets Girl, or the other way around now, still makes a good story if it's told the right way.

Chiseled in Rock said...

???? Not following you. I think that you're saying there is some recycling going on...which I would agree. And the WAY a story is told can give it distinction. But do you really believe that there's not an element remaining that hasn't been explored yet?


Brent Wescott said...

It's an easy out. I can't figure it out, so I'll give in (or up) and tell myself it's all been done before. I've felt this way as a younger writer.

Chiseled in Rock said...

Brent, how bout a group of MP3 players coming to life and being scared that they'll become obsolete (dead) soon? Just threw that one out there. Think it's been done? ;)


Anonymous said...

E.C., Amen to this post! I enjoyed your novella Quench which was about vampires, but you did something shocking yet funny with them that I'd NEVER seen anybody do before. Quite frankly, I think those who spout those bad words are people who don't have imaginations...or they're letting themselves get boxed in.

Amanda Sue Dunham