Last Updated on September 26, 2022 by Ben Oakley
“Originality is as accepted in mainstream culture as slamming your face on an acrid ground is considered good for the skin.”
Is anything truly original anymore?
Anish Kapoor put it best when he said, “all ideas grow out of other ideas.”
He is fundamentally saying that nothing is original anymore. But is that really a bad thing? Well, yes and no.
I’m sure most are aware that a significant percentage of Hollywood films in any given year are either remakes, sequels, or another story in an expanded universe of films.
You might be thinking how this has anything to do with books?
Hollywood studios don’t like risk. So, they green-light films where they are likely to get their investment back.
It doesn’t matter if a horror film is ripped to pieces and the audience reviews are negative
If that film makes five times its budget with ease, then it’s simple economics; make another one. Doesn’t matter if it’s bad or not, audiences will stick to what they know.
In books, this is called writing-to-market.
Whatever is trending will sell.
When author’s write-to-market, they follow the latest trend in bestseller lists. Proving that all ideas grow out of other ideas.
This could be:
- Erotic romance.
- Teen horror.
- Urban fantasy.
- YA werewolves.
What you find is that authors will write something that closely resembles a bestselling book or top-selling trend.
There is nothing inherently wrong with writing-to-market.
If readers were getting sick of it, then it might be a different picture but they’re not. In fact, if they like a certain theme then readers tend to buy more of it.
People buy what they like and again there’s nothing wrong with that.
Rather than wait an entire year for the same author’s next book, readers might search for something similar from another author.
The downside is not so much the creativity but – originality.
That’s not to say writing-to-market is entirely devoid of originality, it’s not.
Most books written-to-market follow remarkably similar premises and plot points throughout but still require skill to put a cohesive and coherent story together.
However, originality as always, is harder to market and mostly goes under the radar.
This is because trends set the way that writers should be writing if they want to be read and sold.
Much like superb independent films might not get as much recognition as their big brother generic counterparts.
All ideas grow out of other ideas. But some ideas are so devoid of originality that one must wonder if imagination has become a relic of a time gone by.
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