Infinite Variation


    Have all stories been written?

    My writer-friends and I exchange weird ideas all of the time. Most are variations. What if a leprechaun is bitten by a vampire? What if Mr. Ed (the talking horse!) had run for political office?

    Both of these are variations, as leprechauns, vampires, and Mr. Ed are well-known. Creating a truly new and unique monster (I have toyed with this!) is one of the hardest tasks that a writer can tackle. But even then, it is still a variation on all monsters; what is it about an idea that makes it not a variation? Alternate time-lines are variations of history. But isn't the idea of the variation often unique?

    Anything can be a new idea IF IT IS NEW TO THE THINKER. I had a great insight into an example of physics last year, and I was greatly disappointed to find out that I was not the first to realize it. It was first envisioned by a very esteemed scientist (whom I had never heard of) decades ago. But my version of it was still unique: what made my idea unique was that I was using it to explain one of Einstein's basic principals, which worked well, while the scientist just used it as a stand-alone discovery in his area of study.

    This is why not every story has been written: I could outline a story idea, give it to 50 writers, and get 50 totally different stories back.



STORYLINE: A scientist has discovered how to open a portal in time. After several preliminary tests, he wants one big test to prove that his technique works before he announces it; the scientists chooses to view Moses speaking to God and receiving the ten commandments.

    The scientist watches Moses intently, but witnesses no conversation with God. Deeply concerned with how this will be viewed once it is announced, he confides about his invention and dilemma to his priest.

    The priest and a cardinal arrive and question him on all aspects of time-manipulation. He tells them of one of his tests: He dropped a small red rock through the portal onto his desk five minutes in the past. No rock on his desk appeared out of nowhere. Then he viewsed the same instant in history (5 minutes ago) and saw the red rock appear out of nowhere and fall to the desk. He concluded that once you change the time-line, it is changed forever, but those changes don't affect the present.

    Working together, the scientist, priest, and cardinal begin reproducing all of the miracles of the old testament themselves (with current technology) so that when the time-breakthrough is announced, then people can look back in time and witness the 'miracles of God'. Unknowing that the trio changed time already, this evidence will 'prove' the bible as the word of God and as history.

    One of the scientist's assistants discover what they're doing and threatens to turn them in. The scientist, priest, and cardinal plot to kill the assistant, but the assistant spies upon them and, discovering their plot, damages the time machine and calls the police. But before the police arrive, the assistant is murdered. The cops catch the trio putting his body into a car's trunk, but do not know why he was killed.

    The trio are arrested, but the damage has been done; the miracles of the bible now happened, not by God but by these three men.

    Slowly the facts come out and the truth is revealed. But the "miracles" are now history: Should they try to undo everything?


This is how most of my stories start. It has a:

    1. Mental challenge (how to recreate biblical miracles using existing technology).

    2. Physical challenge (recreate the miracles of the bible and murder an assistant).

    3. Moral challenge (should they be doing what they're doing?).

    (I probably have about 50 ideas like this written down - this is one I don't feel inclined to write. Some, like the unique monster type that I created, exist as a finished short story, being held for future ideas.)

    My point is that this story idea, given to multiple writers, would never result in the same story being written. Each writer would make the characters according to their own ideas, and the interactions of the characters would be as different as they would be. One writer might would put this in modern times, another make it steampunk, and a third writer might make it StarTrek fanfic. POV could be entirely from the perspective of the senior police investigator, one of the main characters, or another character entirely. Each one of these variations is a new version of the story, and yet make it unique and enjoyable.

    If you categorize any story, then you can place a similar story in that same category, and call it the same. But by that standard, Twilight and Dracula fit in the same category. Star Wars and The Man Who Would Be King fit into the same category. One Fish, Two Fish and Jaws fit in the same category.

    Anyone can categorize stories, so there are as many categorizations as readers. But the idea that these categorizations mean anything is only held by those who do the categorizing, and those who care what they think.

    The reader's own categorizations are the only ones that really count.

(What did you think of this blog? Please leave a comment.)