Every story has already been told.
How come, then, just in self-published novels there were well over one million in Amazon last year?
If we include what’s been published in the traditional publishing route, we will be up in the two million-plus novels, easy. Keep in mind, that does not include the novels that, although good, were rejected.
So, what’s this jazz about all stories having been told?
Well, let’s see.
There is a conflict between two great (ancient / space / alien / opposing / advanced / primitive / contemporary) civilizations. The hero joins the fight (recruited / volunteered / lost all and joined / decided to protect all and joined / decided to protect the immediate family and joined / was conscripted) and (trains / innate skills are revealed / develops powers / learns the ancient ways / learns modern ways / learns unimagined techniques / is modified -physically, psychologically, ciber implanted, genetically manipulated- to be able to fight / magic powers have revealed). The protagonist faces one terrible trial after another, wins some, but loses most. The world crumbles around the protagonist and any and all companions. There is no hope. They have lost (to the evil / the invaders / the opposition / the rivals), it’s clear and inescapable. They are doomed. Then, the protagonist surmounts impossible odds and, miraculously, manages to pull a triumph out of what was clearly a defeat. The protagonist and the survivors live now in a different world than the one they started from, and even different from the one where they fought in. They are different too. The End.
Have you ever seen or heard of that story?
Let me give you a few examples of stories that fit that paragraph:
Troy – The Oddessy / The Iliad
Harry Potter – any book of the series
Ready player one
Percy Jackson and – any of the series
Star Wars – most episodes
Star Trek – most episodes
Game of Thrones – Many of the books, but, surprisingly, not all
War of the Worlds
I could go on. Are these all the same? Of course not. Do they all fit the story in the paragraph? Yes, they do.
So, every story has already been told. The thing here is, how you tell the story you are writing.
There are many people much better equipped than me to expand on how to tell the story. I will only state that it can be done.
Going back to the beginning of this post, remember some of those rejected novels in the traditionally published route? Sometimes the rejection is because they resemble a little too much a known already published work. Sometimes the trope has been done to death, that is to say, the story has been told many ways already and one more take on it is probably not going to capture new readers.
Other times, the style is wrong for the moment. It is a good story, it is well written… but. There is not enough action. There is too much dialogue. There is too much action. The characters are flat. The world is unbelievable. The magic system does not make sense. The science does not make sense. I could go on, but you get the idea. The writing is not in line with the current reader’s expectations… in the opinion of the publisher.
I have seen in #pitmad people describing their novels as “Indiana Jones plus Stargate ending up in Aliens versus Predator”. What does this mean? Does it mean they have *gulp!* plagiarized any or all of these works? No. They are trying to tell the reader what to expect. You see, right there you are looking for a specific audience. In the example above: science fiction fans that enjoy an adventurous, humorous hero. Now the author knows that those that follow the link, will expect what is in the work: Science Fiction and an action hero of some sort. There are many such descriptions, using well-known movies, TV series, or books to describe what to expect in the book being offered.
So, the fact that every story, be it romance, erotic literature, science fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, thriller, etc. has already been told does not mean that YOUR story doesn’t need to get its chance in the limelight. Just make sure it’s well written, does not have any mistakes in it (orthographic, plot holes, grammar, etc.), that it fits the current styles and trends (if you are going traditional, if you are one of the many self-publishing authors, go forth and conquer!- but be aware that the traditional publishers do what they do for a reason).
What do you think? Has every single possible story been told? Leave a comment and let me know.
Thank you for reading and have a great day.