It’s a piece of advice that I give to anyone I can. Someone might have made it before, but no one’s made it quite like you. What exactly does that mean, though, especially when paired with the idea that there are no new stories?
Isolate Your Personal Narrative/Experience
We all have things that are unique to us. We view the world, at large, through a filter that’s informed by our upbringing, experiences, and natural inclinations. There are certain things we do and don’t like about the media we consume and interact with. Making a concept your own involves figuring out how you can intersect that unique experience with said pre-existing concept.
Maybe you enjoy the story of Beauty and the Beast, but you were always bothered by the traditional standards of western beauty being portrayed. Maybe those concepts interact with your personal experience and your cultural background in a way that fills you with a sense of dismay or unease. That can become your angle for a reinterpretation of the story. There’s value in your personal narrative even if you’re not creating a wholly original thing. There’s a wealth of stuff to pull from there that you might not have even thought about.
Self-Reflect to Understand What Doing it “Like You” Means
As a fiction writer, I have a fairly strong voice. It wasn’t a thing I specifically set out to do, it just kind of happened. Through it, though, I’ve sort of cultivated a certain approach to building out a narrative and there are themes that, for better or for worse, run through most of my work. As I’ve created more games, there are specific mechanics I’ve decided I want to implement in more of them in the future, hoping to establish certain hallmarks where you can go “ah, yes, that’s one of HER games.”
It doesn’t have to be that complicated or actively constructed. It may be something that develops naturally. Having a certain “brand,” though, that’s built from a real, earnest place can separate your interpretation of a classic story from someone else’s. Having a specific mechanic or style or aesthetic that’s part of your creative identity can cement both for yourself and a fanbase a sense of familiarity. They always come back because they like what you do and you consistently deliver it and will be more likely to follow you as you branch out into more and more new and novel ideas.
Just be careful not to get caught in stagnation. There’s a fine line between cultivating a style and falling back into your comfort zone without growing as an artist.
Be Careful with Falling into the Trap of Expectations and “Weird for the Sake of Weird”
Sometimes in that quest to do things “your way” you might kick around possibilities for taking old stories and ideas and making them new and interesting. You may play with “A but XYZ!” Like “Cinderella…but horror…” or “Lord of the Rings…but cats!” These ideas aren’t inherently bad, but if they come from a place of “different for the sake of different” and not authenticity, it’s going to show. So by all means, go for that wacky idea, but don’t sacrifice the truth of your creativity for a “people will like this wacky idea, lol I’m so random.”
Consumers know when something is pandering to them in a totally exploitative way. It’s a fine line to walk, but you can do it.