The philosopher Carl Jung discussed at length the concept of a universal consciousness. This consciousness is a well-spring of ideas and memes that are as old as the universe itself. Within it are various archetypes that we as humans encounter on a daily basis.
I’ll spare you the specifics of Jung’s philosophizing. The point here is this: There really aren’t many original ideas.
Some quotes to kick us off:
“Don’t worry if you’ve seen the shot before–you can still make it your own.” (My apologies to the author of this quote. I didn’t get the chance to write it down. The man who said it was doling out a nugget of advice for aspiring directors during a bit at the Emmys on Sunday night. And I might not even have the quote completely right. But you get the point.)
“Nothing can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old dea and thinks it is his own.”- Sidney J. Harris
OK, so that last one’s a little harsh sounding. But work with me here.
The first quote goes along with Jung’s theories. There are universal memes and ideas that we encounter regularly. I’ve had this struggle in my own writing. In fact, the genesis inspiration of my short story that I’m publishing here on the blog was a TV show. I was curious as to how the concept they worked with on the show would work if the characters were Mormons. Now, while the characters in my story aren’t overtly members of the LDS faith, I wrote them as being such.
This is an example of taking an idea or concept that may be more universal and putting your own spin on it. So while the second quote is harsh, it’s really a warning against plagiarism. And a nugget of sage advice to work to put your own spin on an idea.
Two weeks ago almost I had thoughts that my novel, Oracles Promise, and the trilogy to which it belongs would have to be scrapped entirely. This was because there’s a certain plot element that bore eerie resemblance to something else I’d read in a book. But as I thought about it, I realized that it was one of those universal consciousness ideas that float around, but that I’d put my own take on the bones of it all.
What’s my point? “Don’t worry if you’ve seen the shot [idea] before–you can still make it your own.”
And don’t let the fact that you may have seen a small bit of your concept before deter you. You never know, you might come up with some twist on it that will make it completely fresh and original!