I know that title probably sounds depressing, but it isn't. At least, not for me. I cribbed an old quote by O'Neill, "There is no present or future, just the past happening over and over again." Well, the truthfulness of that in regards to historical events, I will not debate at this moment. But, I must say, from what I've seen, in stories, at least, it's true.
Don't believe me?
Scenario #1: A young couple from waring families falls in love and must struggle to be together against seemingly impossible odds.
Obviously, I mean Romeo and Juliet. Except I really meant the myth about Pyramus and Thisbe. Or did I mean Troilous and Cressida? No, wait, I was thinking of The Wicked Books by Holder and Viguie.
Scenario #2: Pretty, spirited young miss becomes involved with a slightly older, highly attractive man, and through her love saves him from his dark past.
I'm not even going to play with you on this one. That's the plot of about a million romances whose names I couldn't even begin to list. And Twilight. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
So, this brings about the old question, what constitutes new and original anyway? For most stories, I'm sure there's something there that, when stripped to the bones, is really something we've all seen before.
But, for me, that's the key. You've got to strip it to the bones to see that. There should be enough new and interesting meat on the bones that it distinguishes itself from others of its kind.
Bear with me on what could be a disturbing metaphor, okay?
Human skeletons, by and large, look a lot alike. (Not that I've seen a bunch up close or anything like. I'm generalizing.) If you look at pictures of different human skulls, you'll always know, 'Hey, that's a human skull.' And, if I showed you five skeletons, you'd probably need a while to find the two that were exactly alike. (Ooh, an interesting, but slightly creepy, game to play at Halloween parties.)
But, not all people look alike. We're not even shaped alike, for all we've got similar bones. Some bones are longer some people. Some people have more muscles in certain areas. Our hair and eyes and all the little details come in different dimensions and colors. The details change.
It's the same with stories. To make an old story new, change things up. Elongate some bones and shrink others (change the basic framework to shift the focus to another aspect of the tale). Redistribute the muscle groups (change some big aspect, like POV or time and place, which can do a lot). Replace the hair and eyes (make the minor details way different. You can change the MCs personality and end up with a whole different seeming story.)
The past is happening over and over again. Why don't we always feel like it? Because it's a different looking history every time.
How do you feel about story repetition? Are these all just the same old story over and over again? What do you do to make your stories original?