While I was slowly being covered in a record 70" of snow this past week, I burned through a huge stack of books. One that stuck out was After the Workshop by John McNally. First of all, it is wonderful and funny, and a great behind-the-scenes peek at writers. But the reason I'm blogging is because of what one of his characters did. This guy was a bestselling author - but all he did was take great works and reimagine them. He had a notebook full of two line ideas like "Moby Dick - but set in the suburbs and with a poorly trained dog instead of a whale" and "The Old Man and the Sea, but set in Iowa and on a tractor instead of a boat". Strangely enough, nobody in the publishing world (except our hero) figured out what he was doing.
At first it made me laugh uproariously. But about two seconds later, I realized it probably happens all the time. I don't mean the blatant take offs such as Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but someone who starts with a classic fairy tale, or even a parable, and goes from there. I'll admit there are times when I'm watching a movie, or reading a book blurb and think wow, I could spin that this way instead..... I haven't yet, but I can see how easily it could happen. And that made me wonder; does it count as a wholly fresh idea, or should it be discounted as sheer laziness bordering on minor plagiarism? Haven't decided yet - but since I haven't decided, I'm sure not going to indulge in it! What do you think?