Does Anyone Write Anything Original Anymore?
This post is a little rough around the edges, it’s Monday morning and I’m a little hungover. Go figure…
I have worked on more than eight or nine novels over the last twelve years. Can’t even remember how many short stories I’ve pumped out. The most successful of the gaggle has been ‘Missing’ a Matt Spears Mystery.
IMHO This is a novel that lacks any real originality but strangely enough people love more than their shiny new iPad2′s. (I was going to put first-born here but first-borns have lost their luster, iPad’s have far more cache these days!)
Why is this? Why is Missing loved by one and all, with the exception of a few who I like to consider ‘not my target audience’?
It’s hard for me to answer that, I’m too close to the subject. So Let’s look at a recent comment directed at this novel from a lovely well-wisher:
“I have Simply pointed out that you (no doubt unconsciously) copied the plot of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”
The review was long winded and pretty boring but this remark, maybe it was off the cuff, really caught my attention. The comparison the commentator made was like some Jedi mind trick. Not because he was 100% wrong but because he seriously had a point. Let me expand below:
- Dragon Tattoo is a story centered around a missing girl. So is Missing (that seems a bit obvious from title).
- Dragon Tattoo has the hero Mikael Blomkvist tasked by the uncle of the missing girl to find her. Missing has the hero Matt Spears tasked by the uncle of the missing girl to find her also.
- In Dragon Tattoo the uncle is a wealthy industrialist, in Missing he is a blind gangster. Both are central and charismatic.
- Dragon Tattoo has the team of Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander (who has the dragon tattoo) searching for the girl using their various skill sets. Missing has Spears and Nathan Draper (no tattoos) searching for the girl using their various skill sets.
- Blomkvist is a journalist. Spears is a debt collector. Salander is a computer hacker. Draper is a forensic accountant with considerable computer skills.
This guy was also not the last reviewer to see similarities between the two, yet real Dragon Tattoo fans seem to think they are both plot driven but very different novels in their tone. Missing has a lot of humor where Dragon Tattoo has very little (none in fact, or I couldn’t find any).
Here’s the kicker. I did not read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo until I saw these reviews. I enjoyed it but there could have been no plot copying at all. I have not followed on the series either just in case some osmosis took place.
So how did this happen? Who knows, maybe a collective consciousness exists and we are all plugged into some matrix. I think I’m reaching here or my imagination is running riot. It is interesting though.
How many times have we come across a film or novel that we think has similarities or is blatant copying of other work? It happens. And there is this new phrase ‘the reimagining of’ like the Freddy Kruger franchise has recently been re-imagined, as has Halloween. How is this okay and straight out plagiarism not? The story is the same, the characters are the same, it’s just shot from a different angle with new actors. Seems to work though, both of the new re-imaginings have been well received.
Orson Welles said “It does not matter whether a work of art is fake or not. It matters whether it’s a good or bad fake.” I’m paraphrasing but I think I understand what he means.
Are Star Trek spin offs, prequels, origins, re-imaginings all just copies of a kind – fakes in other words? Maybe that’s the answer to my own question of how the ‘coincidences’ of Dragon Tattoo and Missing happened.
Nothing original is produced anymore because human nature points us in a direction (mystery genre, romance genre, sci-fi format, etc) … which ultimately means everything becomes the same, nature shapes it. And for some reason we love it that way.