A world-weary detective must break all the rules to solve the biggest case of his life.
A man sent to exploit a region's natives falls in love with one of them and questions the reason he is there.
Someone wants a thing. They struggle to get it. They get it. Or they don't.
Which stories am I talking about? Yes, that's right. All of them.
Every story that's told is the same story time and time again. Since the oldest fairy tales and legends, a few human stories have been the ones we connect with on a primal level. So we keep on telling them.
But as a freelance copywriter, I deal with clients who demand originality every day. They want their brands to sound unique, unusual and interesting. They want a personality that's unlike any other, used to lead campaigns that have never been done before.
And that's not just possible. That's easy.
(Brand) stories are all the same
See, if we think about all the stories ever told and distill them into categories, we're missing the point. It's not the tale that keeps people interested. It's the telling.
Take the 'fish out of water' story, where somebody is thrown into a world in which they don't belong and must cope in this new and intimidating landscape.
It's the central notion of TV's Life on Mars, where a tech-minded cop is sent back to the heyday of violent, brash police work. The only PCs here are the people smashing heads to get the information they need.
But that same 'fish out of water' story is the Jackie Chan film Rush Hour.
In both, characters are in foreign spaces. In both, they need to make sense of this new world and see how it all works, remaining initially passive and led by their new partners.
And, in both, they'll ultimately come to learn that the way of working that seemed so foreign might actually have its own merits.
Both those stories are uncannily similar in the most fundamental, structural ways - but they couldn't be more different to watch.
And you know why? Because different people wrote them.
Why originality is easy
I promised you the secret to originality. And here it is.
You're you. Be that.
Whether you're writing copy or writing a story, originality is simply letting your own voice come through. Write with confidence to be yourself and the originality comes as a matter of course.
And for brands, don't look in the wrong places for originality.
Your brand story? It's probably the same as everybody else's. It's the take of a company that wants to deliver the best service, that's committed to every customer. I know. I've heard it all before.
But your originality isn't wrapped up in corporate nonsense that tells you your tone of voice is friendly, charming, or confident. It's in the nuances.
It's in the times you push away from an established tone of voice marker and do something a little different. It's in the different weights you put on each of your values. It's in the way you use email a lot, while somebody else sticks to social.
And it's the fact that, even if you sell the same things as your competitor, you can't help but do it differently.
We're all crying out for ways to be original. From online content to entire ad campaigns, we all want to be different.
But, please, you don't need to worry about that.
Because you already are.
Written by Stephen Marsh