The Originality/Unoriginality Barrier: Gradual Evolution.

(Not done writing about originality yet.  Regular poster Serdar noted that my ideas addressing originality suggested that highly original people can and should address using their ideas via gradual evolution, and that gradual evolution of media was an ideal. I want to address that).

I've been writing a lot about originality in media lately.  This is entirely understandable because originality is a big topic in media – in an age of remakes and the shockingly innovative it's going to be something prominent in people's minds.  It's also an important subject because people feel very passionate about it – as I noted there are many psychological/cultural factors to a love of originality.

My conclusions actually were that originality is actually not a prime driver in media consumption – socializabitility is.  People's interests in media were often heavily influenced by what they can share with and enjoy with others.  Originality, in turn, was most important when it helped with that social factor.

Knowing that originality is not always an important factor is troubling to media people who are creative.  Ideas burn in their heads like suns and they want to share them.  Artists and writers have the urge to express and share these ideas – and running into the barriers of disinterest and confusion from potential audiences is personally (and financially) devastating.

Yet many of us are driven to try new ideas and want to communicate them – and feel it can be both artistically fulfilling and profitable.  How can one do that when social factors are such huge deciders?  How do we use that original idea in a way that catches fire so it's popular enough?

I think the answer is gradual conscious evolution of the media one produces to include or expand on highly original ideas.

  • An author who wishes to write particularly exotic fiction might write several stories, each pushing the envelope of concept or character.
  • A story set in a creative setting starts in a tame, understandable part of that setting and evolves to explore the more original ideas over the story – or over several stories.
  • An unusual game concept is built up by a series of related minigames and DLC that explore the new mechanics.

Why would these work?  Because they strike a balance:

  • They include familiar enough elements that people will be drawn to them – via socialization as people prefer the familiar.
  • They include enough originality that the "wow" factor will also intrigue people – and allows further socialization as they wish to share their findings.
  • They provide profitability to publishers, partners, and the like.
  • They establish a consistent narrative, and thus brand, allowing people to relate to the works, the author, etc.  Their image encompasses the familiar and original and will thus attract more people.
  • The gradual approach allows for the tweaking of the approach to maximize both acceptance and use of original ideas.

Note a major factor here is that I think the evolution should be conscious.  It should not be allowed to happen at random (unless that seems to bring inspiration), but instead be planned and directed.  That allows it to be done – and improved – intelligently and as part of even larger media and career plans.

This is a nice way of saying "Hey, all you original people, make using your originality part of your creative schedule."  You've got those unique, you want success to spread your ideas – and make the money to spread more originality.  Start using it – but pace yourself as part of a well-made plan.

Besides, you're creative.  You'll probably come up with some amazing ways to apply that originality in an evolving manner . . .

Steven Savage