Now, Where Have I Seen Her Before?

There's No Such Thing as an Original Story

James Carr


Main Points

Character traits are borrowed from other characters

There's only one story

Character Traits are Borrowed From Other Characters

What you need to know

  • Many characters are borrowed from other works.
  • This helps make connections from the text to other texts or history, which, in turn, helps with analysis in papers. If you're familiar with one thing, it helps you build onto the analysis of another thing in the story.
  • Khan: Metro native, Knowledgeable, Guides Protagonist
  • Sacajawea: Native of Western Territory, Knowledgeable, Guides Protagonists

There is Only One Story

  • Stories grow out of other stories.
  • They learn from each other
  • Small ideas or small parts of the plots may be borrowed from other stories.
  • Don't have to stick to genre
  • Songs can learn from novels, novels from poems, poems from songs, and vice versa.
  • Metro's "Savage Cannibals of the Great Worm Cult" = The Lord of the Flies

Stories Use Models

  • Stories use molds/models
  • While settings and characters are different, the very basic plot is the same
  • Metro 2033 and Lord of the Rings use the same model/mold
  • One character (Frodo/Artyom) possess some power/item/etc. (Ring/ability to communicate with the Dark Ones) and they must use this at a certain location to save the world.
  • May seem similar to concept 2, but 2 says that stories use small ideas while 3 says that stories can share plots.


  • Dialogue between old texts and new that is always going on.
  • Gives stories layers of meaning
  • In Russia, sci-fi writers had a running joke to see who could kill a certain publisher in the most creative ways.


  • Strip away details to find borrowed character traits and plots
  • Once you become aware of intertextuality, you will see it all of the time


  • Every character, setting, or idea is taken from another story or piece of history.
  • Literature has dialogue between texts.

Works Cited

Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: Harper-Collins, 2003. 28-36. Print.