Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making It Different Enough

Having just finished the novel that was on fire in me with a speed I rarely achieve, I've been writing my latest WIP at about the pace of a sedated snail lately. I stopped here and switched to something else for a while because something was bothering me about it, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I finally figured it out: I thought I was writing something that's been done to death, or at least done so famously that I shouldn't bother writing it.

Millions of people are familiar with a particular sequence in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Luke's Jedi training on Dagoba with Yoda. And here I am writing a sequence that is just as integral to my story, that I thought was the same damned thing. I thought, oh, people will believe I'm copying Star Wars. They'll call me derivative, cliche, a hack, a cheat, and worse. They'll hate it.

But then I forced myself to think about the differences between my little episode and Star Wars. There are a lot of them...

* The SW training takes place on ... well, Dagoba. An alien planet. My training takes place on a mountain in Virginia.

* The SW training is interrupted by Luke's need to rescue his friends. My training is interrupted the same way - but before that, it's interrupted several times by a group of villains who are trying to kill my character.

* Luke is learning to use the Force, and Yoda already knows how. My character is learning to use a type of magic that neither he nor his trainer are familiar with.

* Yoda actually likes Luke, despite his feeling that Luke isn't nearly ready to realize his potential. My trainer hates my character, and is only helping him out of sheer morbid curiosity.

* Luke has R2D2 for moral support (all that beeping and whistling would sure cheer me up immensely). My character has no one - they've all been captured, killed, or sent to a safe house.

* Luke is an honorable and righteous character with pure motivations. My character is a sarcastic and terribly unlucky thief.

So - is it different enough? I think so. And there's today's lesson for you: don't be afraid to write something because "it's been done before." Chances are good that your take on any given scenario is going to be different, because you are not George Lucas.

Aren't you glad you're not George Lucas?


Marta Stephens said...

I wouldn't mind having George's money. LOL

I've thought about the same thing at times, but you're right, no matter how similar the scenario may be, you're take will always make it unique. ;)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

You are so right, SW. There's no unique story line anymore, but tha'ts okay. Because no one tells the story the same way twice. And I've had the privilege to read your work as it progresses - NOTHING like that SW stuff. It's unique and lovely and riveting... now send me more!