Please welcome Jeff Hargett!
I love movies. I love books. And I love writing. What I don’t love is writing a book and later discovering that elements within it is not as unique as I had thought.
I enjoy few things in life more than a good fantasy, be it a book, television show or movie. And while shopping just prior to vacation, I found one on DVD that caught my eye. I showed the case to my wife. “Honey, this Airbender movie looks like it might be interesting. Want to give it a shot?”
We watched it. And I was horrified. The movie was full of benders--the very thing I call some of my book's magic-using characters! Yikes! Maybe it's just an obscure movie that no one has heard of.
What’s that, you say? Everyone except a tiny research team in Antarctica knows about this movie? And it’s based on a popular animated series that even they know about? And it has a huge fan base?
Rats, so much for being unique. It's sure to draw parallels and comparisons now. But I’ve been calling these magic-using characters of mine benders for over ten years! Am I going to have to change what I call them now? I must research this series to see when it first aired. Maybe I can call dibs.
Then I hear it, Microsoft Outlook's “You’ve got mail” ding. I open the email. It’s from a beta reader of my story in England. Feedback at last!
That's what bender means in the UK? Well that’s not even mentioned in my story! I'm writing epic fantasy, not epic erotica or paranormal romance. (Yes, I'm a writer that doesn't get out and about enough; rectifying that is on my To-Do list.) But this is still English! If my harmlessly twisted term doesn't translate properly across the Atlantic then what can I expect if it gets translated into other languages?
Maybe I should just call them magi or wizards. Right, those are unique terms that no one has ever heard of.
My speakers ring out another "You've got mail" ding. More feedback on my book, this time from a hard-core lover of epic fantasy. No mention of benders. Good! However…
Yes, I know Robert Jordan used the term Pattern in the Wheel of Time series. My Pattern is different. Mine is the source of magic, creation's threads that give form to everything physical. I’ve even created new words based off it. I’ve got Patternsight and Patternwit with their own (surely unique!) definitions and nuances.
Yes, yes, yes, I know Robin Hobb used a magic called the Wit in the Farseer Trilogy. That's not what this wit is--at all. Mine's Patternwit, not just wit. Nothing alike, I promise!
Is nothing original? What's a writer to do? I know there are only a handful of unique plots out there. I know that what make our stories unique are the twists we apply to them, their settings and characters, and the voice with which we tell them.
But bender and Pattern and wit are terms, not plot. Have I stolen? Did I borrow without realizing? Will my usage of these terms be accepted on their own merit, for what they are in my story? Will people allow me to reuse them? Redefine them?
Those are important questions. My story was not fan fiction. I aimed for originality. My desire was to create, not regurgitate the creations of others. My research revealed that Avatar: The Last Airbender didn't air until 2005. My characters were bending back in 2000. But the readers don't know that. To them, my characters started bending in 2013. (Hopefully!)
I suppose an editor will have the final say as to whether my terms survive. And if they do, the readers will have the final say as to whether they should have survived. But I can, with a clear conscience, honestly state that I created. And that's what storytelling is all about.
We need our stories. We need to hear them, read them and tell them. We need to ignite imaginations, enthrall and entertain each other. Storytelling enriches the lives of both the hearer and teller. The book of Ecclesiastes, written thousands of years ago, states: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
Someone, somewhere has told a similar story. But they’ve not told your story. Your voice makes your story unique and original. So I encourage you to tell your story as only you can tell it. To adapt an exhortation used in theatre: The story must be told.
Thank you Jeff!
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Finding Claire Fletcher Book Trailer Reveal!
Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan will be released by Sapphire Star Publishing on Thursday, December 6! I'm hosting the Finding Claire Fletcher Blog Tour on Wednesday, December 19!
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Did anyone see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II last weekend? How was the film? I'm dying to see it!
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It's Time to Give Back Blogfest
Make sure you check out the big reveal at Mark Koopmans' place today!
Have a great day!