Nicole Humphrey wonders how many plots exist. I agree that it’s dependent on various circumstances, but it seems strange to think that there is a limited number.
It may be the case that there is only a limited number of plots. Humans are rather logical, even if that isn’t constant. But instead of debating this, I’d rather point to a personal experience.
When writing The Lupine Prince, I was avoiding outside influences. The stuff I normally read and watch is foreign, and those works had the largest influence. Since none of them have an American equivalent, as far as I know (which could eventually be wrong), I wrote something different. But I wrote it just typical enough, in my opinion, to be familiar.
My original flash of inspiration was chapter 3. I saw it, and from it sprung the rest of the book. The central scene, the entire starting point of the entire Together with Silver series, is seeing Va’il sucked into a whirlpool in a lake. That was the inspiration.
After I published it, I was watching a Chinese drama, translated of course. And in that drama, it had an extremely similar scene. Including the underground cave, the number of people involved, etc. Now, I know a whirlpool isn’t exactly unique. I know my ideas weren’t very unique as a whole. My book is about the story, whether or not the individual elements are original don’t matter for a writer. But to see an extremely similar scene in something I had never heard of, and had never even been outside its country of origin, was an eye-opener. It proves something.
I do acknowledge this isn’t the greatest example. Sure, someone could point out a story where some element has never been repeated. That isn’t my point. I consume media just like everyone else. I’m human like everyone else. And together, we show that we can think of the same ideas at different times without ever meeting each other.
Being unique is rather difficult when there are 6 billion people. Really, that number is taken for granted. Its an enormous, almost astronomical number, that we don’t even consider since it’s matter of fact. But as writers, there is something good in that. Not all of those 6 billion are looking to publish a book or write anything. Not all will have the same expression, the same flow of ideas. The same way a plot expands.
The key is to realize that our ideas may seem to be original when we are the only ones thinking of them, but to be properly accepted they need to be expressed well. That’s the great thing about being human. We don’t just consume the best and then stop consuming. If we like thrillers, we read thrillers of all kind. Like romance? Read romance of all kinds. There aren’t bests. There are ones we like and those we don’t. As readers, we need to constantly be reading new material. As writers, we have a responsibility to provide material. The plot doesn’t have to be new. In fact, it is best if it’s well-worn. It just needs to be done well, in our voice. 112 Plots? Maybe. But 112 plots used by 1 writer is still an infinite, unending number of possibilities.
549 words I could have used to write a novel.