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Sorry Fiction, Your Time Maybe Up

Tara Raju's picture
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Tara Raju

Professor Dalke

April 20, 2009

Evolution of Stories

Sorry Fiction, Your Time Maybe Up

In 2002, the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, was brought to court on grounds that she had stolen ideas for her fictional novels from a previously published children’s novel. The Harry Potter series had encouraged many children to read for hours on end with flashlights in hand when their parents had turned the lights out (BBC News). Was it all a scam? Was this revolutionary idea about wizards in a mortal world, the plot that e simply stolen from another author? Although the case was eventually won by Rowling, it begged the question, is plot evolution in the fictional literary community extinct?


Professor Dalke had offered in lecture that “everyone has a predecessor” regardless if the author believed it or not. Is the fictional literary community simply varying or “speciating” at a slower rate? Society for the most part applauded the creation of the Harry Potter series  as a fresh imaginative concept but it seems, and still does, disconcerting to know that a women had established the idea of “muggles” or mortals and that her main character was named “Larry Potter” (BBC News). According to the law, Rowling did not violate the “intellectual property rights” of Stouffer; but, still, it seems a little much.  Since Rowling, author, Dan Brown, of The DaVinci Code, was brought to court on similar grounds where he had taken key plot ideas from a previously published book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (CNN). Like Rowling’s case, Brown also won but it still irked avid readers everywhere.  Characters and plots in novels are increasingly predictable and consequently, becoming boring to the reader. The constant reproduction of plots, characters, motifs, themes, among other literary devices in various contexts seems to be leading to the conclusion that the literary fictional evolution has effectively ended. Initially, this “speciation” of literary devices may have had a benefit to society in that it engrained certain important moral themes or ideas into society or even made individuals feel more at ease with changing gender, sexual or self-identity; but, at this juncture in time, is it so overstated that society disregards sub-conscious meanings in various literary devices? Has the evolution of fictional literature reached a point where the reduced variability has effectively led the fictional literary community to extinction? How many more times are authors, writers and the like going to harp on the existing?


Society always goes back to the root to truly understand the foundational framework of everything. It is true with most in even the most basic sense that as the original is evolved and varied, it in time loses its meaning which is the critical examination of the predecessor facilitates the understanding of the next variation, similar to the method in the scientific community.  By understanding Whitman, the literary community is able to better understand other free verse prose and poetry and the complex yet simplistic relationship between the two and the meaning it brings.  The original and fresh contribution to the literary community brought with Whitman’s text will most likely never again be created- it reached the zenith at its publication and now other works have carried bits and pieces of his text to create something new, the “speciation” of sorts.


When will something in the revolutionary in the fictional literary community emerge? As evident of the current New York Times bestseller fictional list (hardcover fiction), the top selling novels all have plot lines that have been created before and only have slight variations from other novels. These novels are most likely best selling for various reasons including publicity, the writing style of the author, the genre, among other attributes. The necessity for Whitman and Darwin like individuals is dire for the longevity of the fictional literary community. How many more times can variation occur before plots and characters and bits and pieces from other texts can no longer breed together to create a new novel?



Dan Brown wins 'DaVinci Battle' 7 Apr. 2006. CNN. 19 Apr. 2009 <>.

"Rowling wins Plagarism case." BBC News: Entertainment. 19 Sept. 2002. BBC News. 19 Apr. 2009 <>.





Anne Dalke's picture

sorry, i'm lost...

I’m completely flummoxed by this paper. Beginning w/ two copyright cases, it claims that novels are increasingly predictable, readers increasingly bored, fiction nearing extinction, the need for revolutionary new authors “dire.”

I’m not understanding what your evidence is for such large over-generalizations, or what’s going on in individual sentences—about the “complex yet simplistic relationship” (?) between prose and poetry, or “what seems a little much”: Stouffer’s challenge to Rowling’s intellectual property rights? Or Rowling’s winning in court? And why did Brown’s win “irk avid readers everywhere”?

Help! I’m lost…