We’ve all seen it: people complaining of stories that use a too-popular trope, or songs that sound the same, or critics saying that one book is basically another. In a world so bombarded by ideas uniqueness can seem impossible, we definitely have a habit of shaming those who seem too similar to the popular art.
But in reality, copying popular media can be a way to grow as an artist – as long as you’re not plagiarizing, obviously.
Creating from scratch is hard. You need at least an idea of what you’re doing, and for that you can imitate popular works.
As an example, a lot can be learned from dissecting Harry Potter. For instance:
- giving a world its own unique feel, like the whimsical feel given by the ridiculous rules of quidditch, the majestic moving staircases, or even just the alteration in names like Minerva McGonagall or Severus Snape
- balancing the grim and darkness with just enough fun that people still want to be a part of Hogwarts, despite all the safety concerns and attacks and interesting teachers
Of course, when “imitating” Harry Potter, an author might decide on a different “feel”, but use some of the techniques used in series like interesting names or unique architecture.
There’s nothing wrong about learning from others. If you’re an action writer, ask yourself what makes DCEU and MCU so distinct and why is MCU more popular? Or, for a YA author, what really made the Hunger Games what is was (hint: not the love triangle) and so popular?
Same goes for other forms of art. What makes a certain band/songwriter/composer so good? What is it about that painting that you like so much? Try to incorporate that, but in your own way.