Be original. It’s a phrase that we’ve heard before and we make ourselves believe that we have to make a totally new idea or concept, like inspiration is just gonna come smack us in the face with a fantastic venture. However, this way of thinking is a trap that can lead us to think that we can’t create something that is uniqueley ours.
I say that we stop thinking about being “original” and start thinking about remixing, a remix strategy.
This is how people like Sarah J. Maas can own interesting ideas with their own signature on it. With the series Throne of Glass, Maas decided to dive into her musings of the story of Cinderella. Now, Cinderella is a tale that stretches across history with countless retellings, but she used the remix strategy to put her signature on the story. She made a remix by asking herself questions that led to an intriguing ‘what if.’
What if Cinderella didn’t come to the ball to get away from her life, but instead she came to kill the prince?
Picture it! Cinderella the Assassin nails the prince and makes a quick getaway into the night! Of course that’s not exactly how Throne of Glass goes, but Maas has the series that she has now becuase she decided to remix a story that has been told time and time again by asking crazy questions and coming up with her own signature on the roster of Cinderella interpretations.
When creating your own story, you can be as grandiose as Maas’ fantasy epic or you could go for something else, but the point is that you should take the time to study what inspires you and what has come before you. Poke at it. Question it. Shakespeare did that with the plot of Hamlet and Disney nudged Hamlet’s plot with Lion King. Most recently, Black Panther has some interesting connections to the Lion King’s plot. Even if it was not the direct intention to create stories that loosely drew from each other, the audience can definitely see the connection upon closer inspection and appreciate each Creator’s Remix Strategy.
Remember, this doesn’t just apply to writing a book or a short story. If you’re writing music and you want give off a certain atmosphere or deliver a particluar message, you listen to artists’ music that sound like what you want to make. If there is a dance style that you admire and want to put a spin on, look at choreographers/dancers that came before you and study who they studied. If you keep digging through what inspires you and the history of work that came before it, you’ll be able to find a way to remix what inspires you into your own idea.