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  1. Tokata
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    Tokata New Member

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    Already been done!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tokata, Apr 12, 2010.

    ok, so what do you do when you have had an idea in your head for a few years, have worked out a great plot, characters, and have a well established layout for the prospective story etc. Then, while relating the idea to someone whose opinion you value, they say 'Well, great idea, but it has already been done'.
    They refer you to the previous material and sure enough - my plot and ideas, almost to the letter. Even down to my first choice of main character name being the same! Can you say 'Bubble burst?'
    For the record: My idea (in a nutshell) was a sterile world where a terrorist gets a gal pregnant and they go on the run to avoid the unpleasantness that might follow if they are captured. I had never read or even heard of 'The Children of Men'. When I looked it up I was astounded. Particularly spooky about the character name, Theo.

    So, how do you avoid this kind of 'conflict'?
    Suppose a scenario where I write the story, submit it to a publisher, and they write back and say;
    'Ahem, you are having a laugh right? This is nothing short of plagiarism'.

    How does a budding writer produce fresh or original material without knowing the plot of every story or novel ever written (and let's just say the famous, well known and other noted authors).

    I do not expect an answer. Reflections and ideas would suffice.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Everything has already been done. There are similarities between everything, and that doesn't make it plagiarism. Ideas can't be copyrighted anyway. What you need to do is make sure you write it in an original, entertaining and engaging way.

    And for the record, unless your story included a central plotline about the world's men being sterile, then I don't think you can say it's too similar to Children of Men.
     
  3. Tokata
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    Tokata New Member

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    Thanks Banzai, but sadly, as I tried to get across in my original post, the similarities between my (completely independently evolved story) and the previous material were spookily similar. Yes, my main plot line was male sterilty and main character getting a gal pregnant. ok, my story line does have a lot of differences, but the main story, plot and most associated ideas are not similar but identical.

    What can you do?
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Write it, and see how it comes out. I find that in the writing of a story (particularly something as long as a novel) changes it from the original idea. A story I've recently had published was initially going to be a mash of official(ish) meeting minutes and newspaper cuttings in two seperate time frames, but the final version ended up as a straight third person narative in one time frame.

    And if, after writing it, you decide it is too similar, then you'll still have learnt a hell of a lot of lessons just writing it. But in the end it's your call. Depends whether you want to devote the time to it.
     
  5. Cecil
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    Cecil Member

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    Honestly, most people could probably get together with a friend, and come up with a plot synopsis. Then both people could independently write a novel based on that synopsis and submit it to the same publisher or even the same editor, and the odds are that the editor will have no idea that they were even meant to come from the same synopsis.

    If your plot is similar to an well known work right down to the name, like you said, then I would seriously consider changing the name, just from a marketing standpoint. Like if I wrote my own story about a magic school in England, and my main character's name was Harley Planter, I might want to change it just so people reading it don't automatically jump to the conclusion that I'm a copy cat.

    But yeah, plagiarism is a word that gets thrown around quite readily by people who don't know what it actually means. In the world of fiction, I think it's pretty hard to actually commit plagiarism unless you copy something word for word.

    You might have a hard time getting it published just because the publisher might be looking for something that feels newer, but I really wouldn't worry about the "P" word, except from fans of 'The Children of Men' who don't know how the word actually works and who want someone to hate on.
     
  6. fruitdruifje
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    fruitdruifje New Member

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    no story can be exsactly the same enless you worked really hard copying it by the letter. Indeed every concept has been done allready but.. some writers make more compelling versions of this concept. even if the storyline looks frighteningly similar.
    What I mostly do if I signal a trace of similarity: I change a simple plottwist, a minor change in character names, a minor change in background, decorum, hairdo or maybe even the way they talk.. I guess the art is to abundantly experiment with concepts, characters, decorum thrue-out the creative process..(maybe sometimes google similar concepts) It's no shame if your story shows mild similarities to another story.. so you might have been inspired by the same kind of things the other writer has been inspired by.. ( example.. maybe little weird example but take a look at how frighteningly works of George Braque and Pablo Picasso show similarities.. both inspired by the concept twisted cameraviews. Maybe both at the same time inspired by Cezanne..? but they both had a different set of interests but somehow created somekind of similar work.)
    How many stories haven't been made about the titanic, some better structured, nicer plots or associative input for the viewer.. but how you twist and turn it it's about the titanic and the people who died there.. from another point of view.
    who knows maybe in your sterile world some still undiscovered non sterile couple surfaces... and has a brand new story to tell, emotional as practical.. no plagiarism about it.. maybe your world might show similarities to an allready exsisting world but the rest is brand new.. like the chords in musical pieces.. the basics might sound similar but the rest is your own musical creation.
    (sorry for the bad spelling and all...English is not my mothertongue..^^)
     
  7. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Ideas aren't copyright protected. Plagiarism is in the presentation--the words and arrangement. I've even read claims that there are only a certain limited number of stories, and they're all recycled. (The classic example: "Boy meets girl...")

    If you're looking for something that's never, ever been done, then good luck. A better idea would be to write your story in your way, and don't worry if something similar has already been done. As long as you're not copying someone's words directly, feel free to write it.

    Charlie
     

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