Thursday, December 21, 2006

Speaking of Derivatives....

What IS the line between inspiration and unoriginality? A book or idea can inspire you. You can come up with a 'clever' idea based on an old premise...a new twist you hope. One of my all time favourite authors is Sheri S. Tepper. I really cannot say enough about this woman's work. Her novels are gripping, thought provoking and compelling. She wants you to think. She wants you to read between the lines. One of her novels...that I haven't re read in a long time, so bear with me, is Beauty. Tepper herself implies 'inspiration' in the Authors Note: "It seems to me sometimes that all beauty is dying. Which makes me hope that perhaps it isn't dead but only sleeping. And that makes me think of Sleeping Beauty and wonder if she, Beauty that is, might not be a metaphor for what is happening to the world at large" perfect Beauty born, Beauty cursed with death, Beauty dying - but with the magical hope of being reawakeneded, maybe by love. The result of all this is Beauty, a novel of the human spirit, a book-length faery tale, a meditation on various questions of religion - or maybe just a prayer." Al Gore would be proud! But...so is it ok for an author to 'use' a faery tale for her or his own purposes? To twist it, tweak it, make it their own? I honestly don't know how original you can be with fantasy or sci fi for that matter. But if you use old ideas in a new way...is that not ok? And as far as Tepper goes. Her sci fi books are great. Raising the Stones was the first one I read and it was incredible....a new take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers really. The Family Tree is about a traditional quest but with a twist. A Plague of Angels introduces us to an Earth changed, and a place where Archetypes exist..but to what purpose? Many of her books have a feminist slant. But not in your face. She uses her stories to show a different perspective on today's issues. I highly recommend her books to all.

7 comments:

SQT said...

Some of my favorite books are re-workings of fairy tales. I love it when an author takes an old idea and makes it fresh again.

When something is derivative to me is when an author recycles an idea but doesn't make an effort to make it their own. I don't mind reading about elves and dwarves in fantasy literature, but I don't want to read about Tolkienesque elves over and over. I'd like to see something a little less cliché if possible.

I have an idea for a fantasy book that I have been working over for a while. I keep reworking it because I want the world it's in to be convincing without seeming to be too familiar. But it really is hard not to draw on ideas from favorite authors. I find myself wanting to throw in elements I liked in other books and it's something I really have to watch.

It's truly hard to be original.

Crunchy Carpets said...

I think fantasy is really tough....I can't wait for yours though.

I have had a tepperesque story in my mind for years and I just keep picturing it as this HUUUUGE novel and so I have never started it.

mist1 said...

I think using the old in a new way is perfectly fine. In fact, I love it. I think it shows creativity to be able to rework things.

SQT said...

CC

I know what you mean. I have a series of books in mind and it can seem overwhelming. Right now I'm just trying to concentrate on getting the 'world building' part of it done without seeming to derivative myself. Easier said than done.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I have to go with what Stewart said in the previous post. There's only so many stories out there.

You want to get even more basic, I rember being taught that there are three themes: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, and Man vs. Superior Being. So you have to take those three and do something with 'em.

I would agree that it isn't really derivative even if it's been used before if the author makes it his or her own. That would be the challenge of good writing.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh sqt the package came! it is just wonderful. much thanks to you and nevins, how very sweet of you two!!!! bee

SQT said...

Glad you like it Bee. Credit goes to Nevins though, it was his idea.