Has been written down…
somewhere (as the Peter Sarstedt song said.).
I set out to write original stories. To break new ground. I got smartarse one day… Ok more than one day. Most days. You’d think I’d learn, but I plainly don’t. It’s hereditary, I think. I got it from my children. Anyway, various pantsers had been talking to me about my plotting style of writing. So I invited a group of them to follow my plotting out a story. I had what I considered a unique idea, which gave me a universe-spanning framework for a slew of stories.
I expounded on it… and several people promptly told me that was near identical to some TV series and how would I make it different?
Now… if I wrote it, it would be different. But at the time I HAD NO TV, and had watched none for at least 20 years. I’m well read (if somewhat patchily – I decided I didn’t enjoy much modern sf, or the modern literary fiction, that so many of the trad sf writers of the last 10 years have been imitating. So it has to catch me pretty fast or I don’t even start) but I am an absolute ignoramus about TV or movies — largely because I find it very hard to sit still for a whole movie. Yes, I am hyperactive, and probably ADD, and my conscience always pricks me, and says “You should be working, young man.” My conscience is old and very grumpy.
The end result is I might see one movie a year, and I haven’t watched anything on TV besides the first few Hugh Fearlessly Eatsitall (AKA ‘River Cottage’ – I don’t know if this ever got to the US) This is a curse and blessing too.
It’s a curse because the right way to do elevator pitches to editors was to describe your book as like X movie or TV series, meets Y movie or TV series. Mary Poppins meets Die Hard and have a bastard love-child would be about my level… but I have actually heard it done, with movies I had never heard of (I am sure everyone else had). The Movie/TV tropes and references were plainly so much easier for both the author and the editor, than book ones. It is also plainly popular with readers, who, it seems know much more about movies than I do.
On the blessing side – I might come up with a similar plot idea, but I am unlikely to follow their direction.
Anyway, I did come out of that thinking to myself: well if I am going recreate movie-plots I have never seen, I might as be hung for a herd of rhino than a lamb. And I have spent a lot of my life wishing there were more of X author’s work, and loving the idea that Y author put in there and never expanded on… ergo PYRAMID SCHEME – which was an excuse to revisit Pratt and Sprague De Camp’s Compleat Enchanter series… I’ve picked on other authors I admire and tried to write ‘in their style’ (Schmitz). Inevitably, these turn into the bastard love-children of several other authors too… (I think I see feeble echoes of Pratchett, Zelazny, Michael Scott Rohan, Heyer, L’Amour, Heinlein, Andre Norton, Simak, Sharpe… for a start)
And in the end… it doesn’t matter too much. The telling is my own, the experience I bring to it is my own, the story changes, and people tell me how original it is…
My thanks to the many people who have ranked and written reviews for CLOUD CASTLES. I have learned all sorts of things and must admit you’ve seen things I didn’t realize, but now can see.