On Writing: The Simpsons Already Did It

Difficulty Finding Original Ideas? Read on…

writing original ideas

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I don’t know how many of you watch the adult cartoon South Park but my (now ex) mother-in-law got me hooked many years ago. Late at night after the young children were soundly asleep, we made ice cream sundaes, turned on the VCR, and laughed our asses off.

I’m not sure what this says about me. Yes, I know, the show goes too far and is overly raunchy. Yes, I often find it offensive. Yet it often provides some valuable insights into life. I guess I’m trying to say it makes me think while I laugh and cringe.

The 2009 episode I refer to in the title is where Professor Chaos returns filled with brand new evil schemes for wreaking havoc. Unfortunately, he finds every idea he’s devised has already been done. The long running Simpsons show has already done them all.

Don’t you find the same dilemma in writing romance? For a moment consider how long writing has been around (We won’t even get into oral history). What are the first topics ancient men considered important enough to put chisel to stone, paint to cave wall or ink to papyrus? The universal truths facing us all: life, war, death and love. Perhaps then as now all writers were advised to ‘write what they know’.

Similar plot lines also pop up throughout history with regular frequency. Shared stories or common themes abound in every culture. How else do we repeatedly get the flood story? Almost every culture has a similar tale about the world being cleansed by water and these stories date back to 3000 BCE in Instructions of Shuruppak. If the topic interests you – check out The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell where he deals with this subject.

Now take the romance genre, add in all the poets and writers from the beginning of time, and you’ve got an unbelievable number all writing about the same subject. We do our best but really…how many ways can that first look be described? Or the first kiss?

The desire to be original and to avoid plagiarism keeps us striving. We want our own voice to be heard but a person can only put on their pants feet first and you can only press your lips together by touching mouths. Like notes on the keyboard, there are only so many ways for the male and female parts to fit together. Tab A in slot B…and so forth. Factor in the reader. They like the familiar and want their love stories to follow a certain path: meeting, conflict, love, resolution, and finally living happily ever after.

How many times have you read something and thought – What if the plot took a different turn at this juncture? What if the characters had done this or said that? We can take the familiar, twist it, and add our own spin. In doing so, we hope to make the familiar unique again.

That’s what I did in It’s A Wonderful Undead Life. Taking the archetype, I made the main protagonist a female phlebotomist. After learning she’s worth more dead than alive, she sees the old classic movie and prays for an angel to help her.

Instead she is confronted by a sociopathic vampire. He uses a blood sample stolen from a rival and forces it down her throat. There is only enough blood to stunt her – leaving her trapped between the human and mortal worlds. How can she survive?

That is my story. With a little humor, some gore and a couple of spicy love scenes, I’ve tried to make it my own. And like all the best romances, the ones that stay in our hearts, it ends happily ever after.

 R. E. Mullins was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri. She has also lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mt. Clemens, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Though she has loved each area, the Ozarks hold a special place in her heart. That is why she set her fictional town of Amber Heights there.

She worked as a Phlebotomist for ten years and assisted in a Continuing Education Course in Phlebotomy for several years. Now she is concentrating on writing. Visit her at any or all of the links below.

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