I’m writing a book. I’m actually juggling several, because I’ve learned enough about myself over the years to know that my attention span will only function properly when I’m throwing multiple and also figurative knives at it.
Today, as I was researching something tech-y for the purposes of world building, I came across the source that inspired my idea to begin with and, fondly, I reread it again. At the bottom where all the comments gather to graze, I saw one that said, “This is already a movie,” along with a title and year.
I went to the movie’s Wiki page and then watched the trailer on YouTube, and I felt a brick of disappointment smash first through my head, then my heart, and found a miserable little home for itself in the pit of my stomach. Sure enough, that exciting premise for my book, which I’d gotten from reading someone else’s “what if this happened?” had already been shaped into a fictional reality.
Immediately, the Fight or Flight part of my brain went, “Screw this book, let’s go dodge a different knife.”
But it didn’t take. I thought of the hours I’d poured into Photoshopping maps and flags and character relationship diagrams, and writing backstories and small scenes to build depth into each character, and I decided, “TODAY WE FIGHT.”
Because we’ve repeatedly seen “boy meets girl, girl hates boy, pair fall in love” and “oppressed people fight against oppressors” and “uncorrupt people becoming corrupt” and “the chosen one must slay a thing to save stuff” and so on and so on and so on forever until the end of our desire to tell stories (NEvar).
What’s fun about a remake is when you can do something truly imaginative with it. Romeo and Juliet’s been told to death and back to life and then to zombification, but people fall in love anew with it all the time, whether it’s Romeo and Juliet in Verona or Romeo and Juliet in New York during the late 50’s/early 60’s. The idea has become a vehicle.
I think those have become my favorite stories to read and watch and hear – the familiar, beloved premises that’ve been unmade and refashioned into a mold. Even though the shape of the story came from another source, what you add into it is yours. Boy meets girl is as old a premise as they get, but there are innumerable ways to go at it.
The photo above was taken from inside Casa Batlló, the house in Barcelona that Antoni Gaudí designed. He created art based on the most fundamental of foundations: nature. Nature touched every facet of his work, from the flora stalk towers of the Sagrada Familia to the warped oceanic glass in Casa Batlló. Looking through the photos I took of his buildings, I thought of the influences that led him to create such unique and marvelous work.
Then I decided: “So, the idea has been done. And before I finish this book, it may even be done again. Twice. But Romeo and Juliet wasn’t new when Shakespeare wrote it, either. An idea is the first star you use to make your story into a constellation. As long as that constellation takes on its own shape in the sky, it won’t matter that the stars already existed.”