For all the talk about wanting something new, something that hasn’t been done before, a different take on a common subject matter, something unique, we’ve had remake after remake, fanfic after fanfic using the same story lines. On Tuesday another fanfic is being released by a major publisher, and many reviews so far have been about how similar it is to the source material.
I posted to Facebook about this earlier, and received many virtual eye-rolls. Many of my friends detest another fanfic that is similar, and in face they and the source form a neat little triangle. So the knee-jerk reaction was to dislike.
Then I found a book set to be released at the end of this month that is a retelling (hard to call something a fanfic when it wasn’t posted online first) of a classic book by a well-known author you might have heard of named Jane Austen. I posted the hook to Facebook with the question of what book that sounded like. Instantly people recognized the book even without me telling them it’s set in the same time period as the original. But then the unexpected happened.
I found a lot of people to be ambivalent about the rewriting of books. Who cares if it’s all been done before anyway, even if it’s a writer sitting there with the source material and paraphrasing? One friend of mine, someone who self-published, doesn’t care if someone does this even with her book!!
So off to a forum went I, and the vote was unanimous. What’s wrong with copying someone else’s book as long as you change the names and a few details?
Have we really come to this? Are we really supposed to accept rewritings and embrace stealing stories? That is how I see this. I can give a pass to writing a book that ends up being similar to one you didn’t know about. But I have a hard time giving a pass to purposefully copying the storyline of another work. I’m surprised at how many other readers and writers don’t have any issue with this all of a sudden.
I can’t abide by this, at least seriously. At best I may be able to write something sarcastically. But I don’t have it in me to copy someone else’s work and then try to claim it’s my own. I’ll do my part to keep originality alive.