Unless it is truly out there, pretty much everything is a fresh take on an existing trope. It really does need to feel fresh, but that’s not the same as being completely original. The originality is all about how it’s done, not what it’s about.
Yeah, I agree. To a certain extent. Yet if you don’t have a bit of novelty in the “what” department beside the “how” one, you may very well end up with a well-dressed cliche, a “been there, done that”, a mashup of others’ ideas. And that may sell well, perhaps extremely well – yet it quite likely won’t be memorable. 15 minutes of famous cashing in, and then oblivion as the next “no what, but how” contender arrives. Or perhaps your readers will get educated and recognize your inspiration (or, if you weren’t inspired by others, just wrote what others wrote by chance, they’ll realize that there’s tons of similar stuff out there already), and… think a bit less of you? So I think the truth lies somewhere inbetween the two extremes. Originality is not über-important, but neither is it completely irrelevant.
(My previous, very brief post, illustrated with a funny “stolen” image, is here.)