Standing On The Shoulders of Giants
In my dice bag I carry a few coins for good luck. I collect coins and foreign money because I find the artwork on them fascinating. Other countries' coins can be artwork in and of themselves. Sometimes for the filigree or for the wording that I can't read, so it merely adds to the design. I carry these coins because like most D&D players, I use them for good luck.,to get better rolls on my dice.
I know that it's superstition and the dice roll what they will, but I find it helps when I place the D20 atop it with the 20 sticking up. One coin in particular is my favorite, a two pound coin (British Currency, not the actual weight) with a silver center and a golden rim around its edges. Queen Elizabeth graces the front and the year "1999" the back. But on that golden edge is inscribed the words, "Standing on the shoulders of giants".
I bring this up not because the coin is cool (it is) but the phrase along the edge always reminds me that there is no such thing as an original idea. The realm of D&D is a setting as old as time; lands filled with elves and magic, monsters and swords. Good versus Evil. While it is familiar, I can always be surprised along the way.
Where the adventure comes from is the people around the table and the ideas that we generate. The novel concept of how to overcome the obstacle laid before us, throwing a curve ball to the DM. As much as they claim to hate these curve balls, they too will admit they are the most fun. When something unexpected comes up, it excites us and makes us engaged.
When it comes to art, books, movies, television, they can follow certain patterns. Genres provide us the context in which we as an audience bring preconceptions in, lay the ground work and make the suspension of disbelief quicker, more easy.
"We stand on the shoulders of giants"
Fantasy uses elves and dwarfs like Sci-fi uses aliens and a tumultuous first encounter. No idea is original. But we can be surprised, both as an audience and as an artist. When a genre is mashed with another, you can have a horrendous product like "Of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" or you can end up with "Star Wars" which is a combination of George Lucas's love of samurai movies mixed with Sci-fi. Stale, old ideas shown in a new light can create something novel and exciting.
I have talked with a number of writers over the years, and a common problem I see with them is a worry that they are ripping off an author that they love, or that their idea is not original enough. This can be a valid concern, but it should not hinder you from making YOUR thing. I would not say I am an authority on this, but I have been able to overcome this mental roadblock.
If you have an idea, get it on the page. Just write. Don't worry about the perfect word. Just write. Don't worry if your story is too close to Lord of the Rings. Just write, that can be fixed later once you revise the words on the page. Everything that we produce as artists, writers, graphic designers, is through the lens of our own experiences. And when something touches you as deeply as falling in love with a book, it will stick with you. You will want to emulate that writer. It happens to everyone. "We stand on the shoulders of giants" and it comes across in our work.
But something happens when you get words down on the page, it becomes your work. It can be revised and polished so it is not a complete rip off of Harry Potter or Twilight, but it grants you the valuable thing when it comes to writing. Experience.
Writing is an art form and like anything else worth pursuing it takes time and effort to master. You will be inspired by the greats that came before you, but ultimately along the way you will find your own voice. And hopefully someday, you can be the shoulders for someone else to stand on.