There is one thing I dislike about reading stories and that is, I get confused about whether it was a movie or a book years later. Sometimes there is a movie and a book out and I get confused because the actors are different to when I visualised it when reading.
I also have the same problem about my own novels I write; were those my ideas or did I see the movie somewhere before? Sometimes I have to actually make notes about where I have seen other things that I am imagining for my own stories, because I am paranoid about coming across as a copycat, I often google even characters and fantasy creatures, just to be sure.
Funnily enough, doing this has shown me how unoriginal many seemingly original stories are by other people. At least I have learned how not to be cliché. For example, I had an idea about a giant spider in a forest for one of my dragon novels, but then this has been done many times before, not just Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings!
Let me tell you the others;
Conan the barbarian – the tower of the elephant
Arachne in Greek mythology
Arachnos from Dr Who
The Cthulu mythos
The wonderful wizard of Oz
There is a whole lot more – in fact giant spiders are overdone in three genres, horror, fantasy and sci-fi.
It is reasonable to think that it would be a popular choice along with rats, wasps, snakes, being buried alive because all of these are mankind’s greatest fears, so it can be a useful if overdone tool for creative writing.
But does that mean that you can’t include these overworked themes in your own writing? Maybe not, but no one is going to write it like you, you can put a unique stance to the story, something that certainly hasn’t been done. Maybe instead your spiders are friendly, vegan, mages, aquatic, who knows the options are many!
For your information, there is such a thing as aquatic arachnids, spiders that can live both on the land and in water, they can breathe under water, now your nightmares can really begin to grow! What will you do with it?
So, although it is good for me to be paranoid about originality, originality in fact does not exist. Only your stance of what already exists can feel unique to those who may never have come across something like that before and the likelihood of finding people like that is at least 33%, well I am not mathematician, so I wouldn’t really know, but the chances are, people will like your perspective on the subject or theme. So get at it, but always be aware that you are not as original as you think – this shouldn’t stunt you, in fact, it should help teach you to think outside the box, improvise or innovate, you know?