This argument has been made a dozen and a half thousand times, but I'll make it anyway.
When broken down, absolutely nothing is original. We've all been borrowing the same concepts from the same people for thousands of years. While it isn't necessarily impossible to be original, originality doesn't lie in the base components. The idea that a story centralizes around a person or small group of people isn't very original, is it? Why can't it be an unnamed mob, or a country? Just all art has shapes, lines, and colors, all literature has certain things that are always the same.
The problem, I think, is an issue of articulation. The problem isn't the presence of cliche, but the absence of a substantial amount of distinguishable traits. Whereas it's impossible to have nothing that someone else has done before, it's entirely possible to have something that is unique to that particular piece. These distinguishing factors aren't singular factors by themselves, but a combination of factors. Literature is ideas, themes, presentation, articulation and diction, symbolism, imagery, details, and many other things. The issue is having too many of those things that are the same.
Moreover, it's also a problem of quality. In recent years, some story telling elements and topics have been used not only far too much but also very poorly. It is the association with poor writing that puts people off and makes people not want to read, even if in reality it is a very good read.
Lastly, the idea that all things are derivative is a terrible, atrocious, and fallacy ridden counter point to the claim that certain cliches can be let up. The amount of things to write about in fiction are innumerable, inestimable, and unfathomable. It is virtually impossible to count the things you could write about. To pick the same particular thing out of septillions of topics is ludicrous, let alone the amount of topics that are actually available in fiction, as septillions is a drop in the ocean, I'd say. Fiction can encompass the entire imagination. Anything that can be come up with can be written, if someone can only come up with it. Someone can make up an entirely new animal/human/spirit/thing to use in fiction. To even present these ceaselessly abused ideas in the exact same ceaselessly abused fashions using even similar word choice is so absurd that the word absurd is intimidated to fill the role that requires such a strong word.
That is how I feel about cliches. To answer the question, no, I don't take originality that much into account when writing, but I do take into account the absence of over use, not so much originality, because originality is hard in a world where fiction has existed for thousands of years.
I think that sometimes the fundamental issue with a story is its plot construction. I'm not of the school of thought that absolutely any idea can work if you write it well enough. Plot construction is a part of writing, and the way that you describe it won't always work.
In the instance of abused themes, ideas, or plot elements, I don't think voice will help at all.
I can't say you're wrong though. Voice certainly helps distinguish oneself, but I don't agree that it can fix a poorly constructed plot with minimal effort.
my usual counter to that is if the voice is lacking, nobody will read far enough to see the amazing plot: it's just too textbooky. I hear this isn't wholly true, though I have no personal experience of it.
although I do think it's very unlikely to find a book with a great voice and a shitty plot just because the process of developing one's voice forces some understanding of the other stuff.
You're right, you typically won't find someone with an amazing voice and a shitty plot because voice implies some understanding of plot construction as well. My point is that your problem can lie in your plot and not how you present it.
And in the case of cliches, very few things can help when you use excessively abused plot elements that people have read far too often than they'd like to.
I write to tell, simple as that. Yes, I want fame and fortune, but best of all I want the fame, but only because becoming famous supports the idea that the message in the stories I tell is getting out there. Originality, I believe, is the magic REAL writers add to every story they write and tell. As humans, I believe cliche portrayal of certain things is inevitable. It is these cliche matters that touch and bind the most common understanding and emotional abilities of majority of people. It's human nature. This is what makes those pop books and movies that has a sh*t-ass excuse for a plot sell...
This is where originality and being a REAL writer comes in. I agree with SuperSachiko, real writers have what it takes to make the usual and normal turn into strange, interesting and wonderful. How many love stories, tragic stories, fantasy stories, and stories about misunderstood creatures have been written and recognized out there? Hundreds? Thousands? More? But how many of them could you say contains originality? Every story is pulled out of a certain emotion and manipulates certain key elements found in human nature. Originality is found in the way of telling, writing, illustrating, or to put it simply, in the execution. As for those popular writers who write undeniably cliche and boring crap? I believe they are either called daydreamers with premature imagination, or businessmen.
How exactly is a real writer different from a facsimile of one? I mean last time I checked, popular authors spent a lot more time actually writing and revising than the average high schooler who's just getting some thoughts out of their head. Seems kind of backwards.
Technical writing and revising does not involve originality. The argument was about originality, yes? True, re-writing and revising is part of the final execution, it's a part of the process, of course. But revisions for such writers often (although, thankfully not all) are limited to "technical" revisions. Originality,such as voices and plot execution are very limited. I know you can name a number of books out there selling out of popularity, with good grammar, book covers and basic technical requirements for a book to be decent and pleasing enough to be sold in the market with nothing much to stand for in terms of originality.
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