Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nothing is New, Everything is Recycled

All the templates for the stories told today have already being told. All of them. No, there is no exception to this rule. If you read some Greek myths you will find a lot of templates we found in the nowadays storytelling, like movies, books and games. The tale of revenge, of redemption, of impossible love... All of them have being told in a form or another.

Part of it is that what drive human interest to an story is restrict. We are basically draw to out of ordinary things, things that we cannot experience ourselves. That is why the story of impossible, perfect love attracts many women attentions, or heroic acts against impossible odds attract many men. Because original templates are hard to come, and because most of them usually fail to attract peoples interests, we recycle them, but in different ways, often mixing two templates to create a new story.

Take, for example, the super-hero template. The person who have supernatural powers and use them for the good of others. You may think super-heroes are somewhat new things, but in fact they are pretty old. You want proof? Take the Christian Bible and the story of Samson.

He is a super-hero, with super strength, fighting to defend his people against an evil arm. See, this template, of the super-powered human being is in fact very old. The contemporary super-hero is based on those kind of tales, who are at least 5000 years old.

So, what make an original story today? How you combine those templates. Using two well known templates  in a different way. Take the Harry Potter series, for example. A group of kids going to school, having adventures while there is not really new. What is new is the combination of this with magic, while also combining the fight against an evil lord (again, nothing new here). This is what is new, this combination of templates.

For example, this is a vampire ninja.
The combinations of different settings, with different characters and different plot lines. This is what we call originality. But under every new story, you can find the templates who created it. So, what I am saying is to be careful before passing the 'I just saw this a million times before'. Probably you saw it, but even your favorite stories probably have some templates of its own, and what you think as never done before was done a million times too, just not in the way you are seeing them now.

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