I have often told my children that there are only a handful of original plots and that all books are somehow based upon those plots and their variations. Success; Failure; Love and Loss; Revenge; Mistaken Identity; The search for a higher power, be it God or the Devil (according to Stephen King).
Ronald Tobias wrote the book 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them and subscribes to this list of 20 basics: Quest, Adventure, Pursuit, Rescue, Escape, Revenge, The Riddle, Rivalry, Underdog, Temptation, Metamorphosis, Transformation, Maturation, Love, Forbidden Love, Sacrifice, Discovery, Wretched Excess, Ascension and Descension.
But whatever notion you hold, I do believe there are only so many original ideas and the best authors mold and shape these basic plots into new and exciting twists that entertain us and become classic.
In that vain, my son showed me this video from Today’s Big Thing which really illustrates the point. This video is about music, but shows that there are only so many chord combinations that a muscian can create and still be original. Th video is very entertaining and makes you stop and think about what creativity really means.
My boss at my ‘day job’ where I work as a lighting designer (which is another post for another time) sent me the link to this very cool video last week. It’s about a street artist in New York who is so very clever it blew me away.
For anyone unfamiliar with New York City, it’s a very kinetic, dynamic place. Always moving, always changing. One thing it definitely has going on is way too much trash flying around. That’s what makes this artist so hip and clever.
New York street art is a unique enterprise that gives life and depth to the city. The fact that this artist captures that with something that is usually less than pretty is way cool. I admire people who can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. It’s a trait I wish I had.