Welcome. This blog was started three years ago by four aspiring writers who are now three published authors of novels and short stories (Barbara Elsborg, Dawn Jackson, Arlene Webb) and one multiple award-winning writer (Laurie Green). We blog to keep readers updated on our new releases or other random topics. We hope you enjoy your stay. :] Coffee?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Morning Ramble: Cliches and Icons

My co-bloggers and I have had a few conversations recently about the new Indiana Jones movie, the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. You see, in one of Dawn's novels, a major element is a crystal skull. Now she's in a situation. Forge on at the risk of agents or editors deeming it "a cliche' that's been done before" and assuming she copied the idea from popular media, or come up with a new artifact in its place that might not fit the story as well.

Dawn said: The thing about it is, nobody had anything like it. It took a lot of research to pull it off and make you feel like you were in SA when I've never been there. I chose the crystal skulls because they've been found on every continent on the planet and the true mystery is that nobody knows where they really came from. And here's something to chew on, if a silcone chip can store the data it does on a computer, what could an object that size hold?

We try to dream up original, fresh ideas, but how original is original? How fresh is fresh? That can change in a few weeks. Sometimes in a day. Even in minutes. If you've been working on a manuscript for a while, chances are someone is going to come up with something close to your premise, your characters or an important story element, or there's going to be a major news event that echoes it. How quickly can you roll with the punches and transform an overnight cliche' into something else?

Writing requires a lot more than talent with words, plots, dialogue and character development. Like any business it's about knowing the market, the market trends, and the competitions' product (though it rankles me to think of other writers' work in that way). As writers, we have to be in the know. Sometimes we have to make gut-wrenching decisions about our work because of recent events. At other times, we have to weigh the risk. In time, a cliche' may no longer be a cliche' but a rediscovered idea. Something that's fresh once more.

Part II: Coincidences will be posted soon.


Heather said...

Ugh, what a bummer for Dawn. On the other hand, sometimes publishers/film studios can't get enough of similar premises/ideas.

I, for one, would read different books on something like crystal skulls if the execution were different. Maybe not back to back, but over time.

Dawn said...

Thanks Heather. I've got a soul stored in mine that my MFC releases when she touches it and ends up with an Alien Grim Reaper after her. It's either catch it and put it back, or die. It's an otherworldly romance combined with a hunt for an entity on Earth. I've got an archeological dig in the beginning and an accident prone MFC who is touch sensitive (psychometry) to artifacts. I've had the rough done for over two years and had just started the re-write when rumblings of IJ came about. Anyone that knows me, knows I have an obsession with ancient artifacts. I grew up walking fields, picking up points, knifes, scrapers, beads, you name it. The ancient facinates me in a way that nothing else does. A lot of my stories combine alien and ancient Earth civilizations (a passion I share with a co-blogger). I've got characters that are from Sumer. I've got Andeans and Mayans, Egyptians and Minoan. Many mixed with otherwords and crazy technology. So, yeah, the IJ movie kind of turned me upside down. When I get myself upright, I'll start again. But I can't say that it doesn't hurt. A lot of work went into that story as well as passion for what I love and admire.

Frances said...

Laurie, you did a great job of highlighting every writer's nightmare.

Dawn, your premise sounds very original. Don't give it up.

Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Laurie said...

(a passion I share with a co-blogger).

Yeah, Dawn and I are sometimes amazed at how similar the premises are in a few of our stories, when the drafts were written before we became IPs and crit partners. Ultimately, they're are very different stories, but we figure our novels are destined to keep each other company on store bookshelves someday...waving to Barbara's and Arlene's novels just down the aisle. :)

I think it bugged me almost as much as it did Dawn when I saw the title of the next IJ film. I can understand how it happened though, since the IJ films are based on historical artifacts (the Lost Ark, etc.) and Dawn has a keen interest in the same things.

Laurie said...

Hi Frances. Thanks for your comment. I need to add your blog to our list here. :)

Heather said...

Alien Grim Reaper? I am so there! That sounds like a really great premise. I'd forge ahead if I were you. A book is a different medium than a movie.

Does anyone here read Fortean Times? That is one spooky good magazine.