We writers search for our own voices to tell our own stories, but we’re all inspired by something. Sometimes that inspiration becomes the foundation of our story.
How do writers usually start working on a new story? Maybe a new main character pops up in their head or they come up with the best first line ever, or perhaps they get a vision of a pivotal scene. In any case, usually the idea comes from a pool of inspiration. Everything you do feeds that pool, so you might have no idea what brought up your newest bestseller plot.
But sometimes there’s no pool, and your work is inspired by or based on one specific thing or story. It’s been said that all story ideas have already been done and there are no more 100% original plots around. That means we have to be that unique piece in our work.
I’ve been playing a lot of The Witcher 3 and watched several episodes of Once Upon A Time, and just recently finished reading Insanity (Mad in Wonderland). What do they all have in common? They have made use of existing stories.
Mad in Wonderland borrows characters and concepts from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Once Upon A Time brings old fairytales into modern world. The Witcher borrows bits and pieces from several European mythologies and legends. And those were just a few small examples. There are countless of books, movies, games etc. that are either partially or completely based on something else – be it an ancient legend or a modern novel.
I’m actually quite fascinated by mythology and folktales. Dragons are probably my most “researched” area and one thing I love about them is how versatile their lore is. They are described differently across the globe, with varying features and purposes. Some dragons are portrayed as wise and helpful, while others are mindless beasts. And despite all the myths, people still find new ways to portrait them today.
That’s what I like about “inspired by” or “based on.” They take something that already exists and create something new from it. The most important thing is to have some unique element, because no one wants to read the exact same story over and over again.
Do you like stories that are based on something, or do you prefer fresh ideas that don’t borrow from anything in particular? Have you ever written anything that was based on or inspired by another story?