There are no new stories……
We’ve all heard a version of the memorable quote that starts “There are no new stories…”. Where did it come from? Is it true?
The first question is easy. The full quote is:
“There are no new stories. It all depends on how you handle them. In romances the characters are going to fall in love with each other; you know that when you see the syrupy cover. It's how they get there that's the fun.” - Jude Devereaux – New York Times Bestselling Author of over 40 Romance Novels.
You can say a version of that for most any genre. Substitute the word “thrillers” for “romances”, “have an adventure” for “fall in love with each other” and “action-oriented” for “syrupy” and you’ve got it.
But is it really true? Probably, yes. When you compare older Golden Age mysteries to newer ones, you see many parallels:
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes bears a noticeable resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe’s character C. Auguste Dupin. Both are reclusive bachelors who have a male room-mate and the roommate is the first-person voice in the story.
Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe has an assistant, Archie Goodwin who lives in his house and is the first-person voice in the story.
Jacques Futrelle’s Professor A.S.F.X Van Dusen is a reclusive bachelor who has a friend, reporter Hutchinson Hatch who is the first-person voice in many of the stories.
There are others. The main point is not that they aren’t new, but that these stories are fun. They’re escapism at its best. We can always come back to reality.