"All the stories have been told!"
~the oldest known suicide note from a writer
I learned a small stone tablet lamented words similar to the above quote was found by archeologists when I studied literature at the college level. Was the instructor joking? Who knows? But the story still holds water, just read what scholars have discovered about Shakespeare.
According to a New York Times article, Plagiarism Software Unveils a New Source for 11 of Shakespeare’s Plays, Shakespeare used an earlier source study for helping to mold his characters and plays:
The findings were made by Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter, who describe them in a book to be published next week by the academic press D. S. Brewer and the British Library. The authors are not suggesting that Shakespeare plagiarized but rather that he read and was inspired by a manuscript titled “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in the late 1500s by George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth, who served as an ambassador to Sweden.
For any new writer, this information may seem like a blessing and a curse.
Have all the stories already been told?
What writers can learn from historical data, sources, and books is that story inspiration can manifest from the unlikeliest of places. Research into the past is not for naught and should be encouraged.
My fiction and poetry writings here on Undawnted are inspired by a combination of Shakespearean dramas and comedies, Joseph Campbell's comparative mythology and the hero's journey, and Jane Austen's tenets of good matchmaking as well as her realism perspective in her social commentary.
Just like Shakespeare, modern writers can be influenced and inspired by earlier works of fiction and nonfiction alike. A seasoned writer knows how to balance the past with the present to make the most of the future. Writing should entertain and inspire others in turn.
What book or author has inspired you?
Have a great and wonderful day!