Friday, November 5, 2010

The New Element

Everyone knows what a cliche is, right? Phrases of descriptions like "light as a feather," "cute as a button," "quick as lightening," are a few examples. Using particular words to describe nouns can be cliche too, such as "cotton" for clouds, and "waves" for windy fields. But even as these cliches can occur in writing, they can also happen in concepts. Perhaps the more accurate term in this case is simply "unoriginal." Allow me to explain....

Christopher Paolini is a great author. His first book is good, his second book is great, and his third book is outstanding, as far as good writing goes. He uses strong action verbs, vivid descriptions, and detailed concepts, which he explains well, throughout his books. I have also very much enjoyed the content of his material. The story-lines are gripping and exciting. However, there are a few flaws that irritate me. They are these: concepts. There are a few aspects of his book that very much resemble other writings. For instance, the main character's name is "Eragon"....... It doesn't sound very different from "Aragorn," from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings stories. His main female character's name, "Arya," greatly resembles the name "Arwen," also from Tolkien's LOTR. These are just two several concepts in his stories that sound vaguely familiar. I'm not going to criticize Paolini for plagarism, but these similarities verge on unoriginal.

The point of this blog is not to tear Christopher Paolini down. Like I said, I greatly enjoy his books and, I must say, these points of minor similarities dissipate in the second and third books. No, I am simply giving you an example of troubles I am undergoing with my own manuscript.

This may simply be a mad habit of my mind, but when I watch movies, read books, and hear stories from other people, my mind is constantly filtering it all, searching for ideas from my own books. When I do find an idea I like, I try to change it, twist it, and transform it until the idea becomes something different, more original, in a sense. However, these ideas where still not my own. I got them from someone else, and made them my own, like the artist who took Leonardo's Mona Lisa, repeated it several times, and published it as a "new" work. My dear brother, Thomas, who can always be brutal with my work, saw this flaw of mine and urged me to correct it. He had just been reading the book "Inkheart" and was struck by the newness of the concepts, how there was nothing else like it in the literature world. He told me that instead of getting onto the internet, perusing pictures of fairies and unicorns for a burst of genius, to habitually sit down and make myself think of something outrageous, something simply queer. The results have been more profitable than I could possibly imagine! And although I still turn to the back of my Art History notebook every time an idea strikes me in the middle of class, I find that trying to be original is very different from being original.

Now to the confessions.... When I first began writing, I didn't care about originality, and I loved Greek and Roman mythology. So I did something wreckless: I named several of my characters after Greek and Roman goddesses and tied their dieties into their names in my story. My main character's name, for instance, is Diana, the Moon Goddess of Ellendale. Her parents named her Diana because, in Geriona (the world in which they live), Diana is the name of the fabled goddess of the moon. And when her parents were naming her, the moon shone on her face and illuminated it so beautifully, they named her after the moon goddess.

Because of the attachments to Roman mythology so obviously drawn, I have greatly considered removing the conotations with the moon goddess. But these aren't the only ties! I would like your feedback with your opinion on this subject, and, depending on the responses, I'll decide what to do from there. Thanks for reading all this! It's a lot, I know... Thanks again!