Think of all the new hits you’ve heard in your lifetime that you loved from the first time you heard them.
You end up singing along to the chorus before your first listen is over. There’s something familiar about the chord progression, OR the beat, OR the lyrics OR a combination of the three. But there’s also something different enough that the song feels new. That we feel like – YES, I’ve found something awesome! And suddenly that song becomes personal to US.
Anyone who has learned to play the guitar knows that by learning about 6-7 chords, you can play a massive percentage of the songs out there. This means that many, many artists are simply rearranging the beats, rhythms, and progressions of those same chords to create something new, but not entirely new.
So, how on earth do we relate that to writing?
Write something that’s different but not too different?
Familiar but not been done before?
A new twist on an old theme?
Um… Yes, yes, and yes?
Is Harry Potter the first book about a wizard?
Will it be the last?
Is it the best selling?
So, think about all the things we love about the Harry Potter stories (unless you don’t like them, then think about something else): The underdog is the hero, it is NOT the “cool kids” who win, and the wins sometimes come with great losses. We feel love and sacrifice and loyalty while reading those stories – none of those emotions are new. BUT, the way the author brought all of those familiar things into a story, with a twist of something new, means they worked brilliantly. She changed up the progression, the rhythm, and added in some really cool new lyrics 😉
So. Just something to think about while we’re writing – not that we should be writing the next Harry Potter, but that we should be looking for those themes and ideas that are familiar to us, and if we are true to that idea of creating something new from something old, and then adding in a dash of something that is all US, we might just find ourselves in a perfect jumping off point for a new story.
P.S. I’m so very well aware that there are incredibly awesome ground-breaking stories out there, that have truly brought something VERY NEW to the table, but even there, you’ll find themes that we’ve all seen and heard before.