1. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    Can You Overuse a Source of Inspiration?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Wyr, Nov 11, 2013.

    So, I’ve been working on building a world setting for a fantasy story of mine, and their system of government (which will affect the plot but is not central to it) is loosely based on the pre-empire Roman Republic. I like the feel it’s given the story, and as such I’ve used it as a “theme” to inspire several other aspects as well. I’ve given a few Roman-sounding names to both characters and places and I’ve envisioned some of their architecture and clothing/armor to have similar style.

    What I’m starting to worry about now is if I have overdone it. I don’t mind people reading the story and not having any trouble recognizing what influenced me when writing it, but I don’t want it to seem like some huge rip-off either or that I was too lazy to come up with something on my own. I realize there is no hard and fast measuring stick that I can compare my story to, but does the fact that I’m even worrying about this indicate that it is a problem? I would really appreciate some advice from more experienced writers.
     
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Can You Overuse a Source of Inspiration?"

    No, you cannot.

    All writing is about taking the basic fundamentals from other people's writing and then adding your own specific details to it. If you have a source of inspiration that you like, but you find yourself using it too many times in the same way, then you are not OVER-using the basic information, rather you are UNDER-using what can be done on top of it. ;)
     
  3. LeighAnn
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    LeighAnn Member

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    If you're still inspired by it, you're not overusing it.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see any way that drawing from historical reality would count as a rip-off. Drawing from fiction, even fiction that's out of copyright, might sometimes be seen that way, but not drawing from history.
     
  5. Wyr
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    Wyr Active Member

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate your feedback. I was a bit worried that people would look at my story, at it's setting in particular, and just wonder if it was an alternate reality/fantasy version of Rome. I'm probably just over thinking this whole thing. :rolleyes:

    I'll be sure to avoid their more iconic imagery and names but I guess it's not a big deal if one of the MCs wields a gladius and their capitol city is Aventine, right?
     
  6. Quabajazzi
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    Quabajazzi Member

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    I don't think it's an issue. :)
    Actually, I really love when books and stories have strong historical influences within them - especially if it is intertwined with the story well and maintains a good rhythm and plot line. I personally seek books like that, so no; it's not a rip-off. If anything, it increases the books depth, as well as the readers intertextual understanding.

    Good luck!
     
  7. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    It doesn't sound overused at all. The only way I could think of overusing it is if you started adding characters whose stories were exact copies of Roman leaders and it turned into more of historic fiction, but that's not the problem you have so you're good!
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The only issue MIGHT be if readers pick it up thinking it's actually a historical novel, and don't realise that the events and/or people in the story never actually existed. If you make it clear from the outset that it's fantasy and not a historical novel, you should be fine.
     
  9. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    The key, as others have said I think, is if you think you're using one source of inspiration too much, get another. For example, if you feel you're drawing too much from the pre-Empire Roman Republic, read a mystery novel set in the Soviet Union, for a random example.

    Point is, its easy to shake things up by just getting another source of inspiration.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is a stretch, but I don't know, could somebody think like "oh look, the author picked up only what's convenient about that period!" or "she must've been lazy cos she didn't imagine anything herself." I know I wouldn't think that and I wouldn't be concerned about that either, but who knows?

    (As for the convenience thing; T and I wrote this one story that took place in a country/culture akin to Victorian England, except they had steam rooms like Russians/Scandinavians/ancient Romans so that we don't have to deal with smelly people, heh. Convenient! Also, the weather's different... But I don't see it as a problem.)
     
  11. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    What you're doing, in essence, is using someone else's world,our own history, as that of a people who have no actual or historical connection to our history. Not necessarily a bad thing. But if the parallels are strong, such as using the same names and customs, your reader is going to wonder why you did that and have expectations as a result of it, that they expect to be adressed. But you're not going to resolve that question, so the reader might be scratching their head, or focus on trying to understand the motive and purpose when they should be focused only on the story's moment of now.

    Jim Butcher, in his Codex Alera series made extensive use of Roman government and military structure. But he makes no secret that the people, though they are not living on Earth, feel themselves the direct descendants of a Roman Legion, so it works.
     

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