Where does originality comes from? Why are there writers/musicians/filmmakers that are more original than the rest?
Originality lies in application. Art is partly about the idea and partly, about the application. Ideas may not be original (because how many original ideas can there be after all?) but their application can be.
That’s what the copyright law in most countries also stands by. The essence of copyright is this : ‘You cannot copyright an idea, but you can copyright your ‘unique expression’ of it’.
Now if everything in art is based on something else then what about originality? It is not possible to be original entirely but it’s possible to be more original than others.
Look at things from a different perspective. That is the easiest way to be original. You’ve seen a thousand adaptations of ‘Hamlet’. How about telling the story from his father’s Ghost’s perspective or his mother’s? There! You made Hamlet your own. Call it whatever you like. How about a story of one incident told by different perspectives? That’s what Kurosawa did in ‘Roshomon’, right? You can take another incident and you’ll still be as original as him.
Basically, it’s all about hardworking. If you take someone’s idea and work hard on it and create something substantially different, that’s not stealing, that’s original.
*The question was by Alexandro Chen & its reply was first published on Quora