1. MoonWriter67
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    MoonWriter67 Member

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    Difficulty to find originality.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MoonWriter67, Dec 1, 2012.

    I've been trying to plan out stories for many months now (some ideas have been posted on this forum), but I seem to have found myself stuck trying to achieve original settings and plots. Each time I think of a plot idea which I find quite exciting, it's only a matter of minutes before I realize that its already been done head to toe by an old 80's horror flick or a recent video game. Does originality exist anymore? Is weaving new stories out of previously done ideas the way forward? Or do I just a have a serious lack of imagination?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No. If you obsess about it you will never write anything.

    Originality is in the details and the writer's voice.
     
  3. the antithesis
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    the antithesis Member

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    Man, even complaining that there is nothing original isn't original anymore.
     
  4. Zico Cozier
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    Zico Cozier Member

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    If you keep worrying about being original then you'll never get started on writing anything. You need to just let the story flow from you as inspiration hits
     
  5. MoonWriter67
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    MoonWriter67 Member

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    I suppose your right haha :p
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Originality is what you bring to the familiar.

    Maybe branch out more - read some articles in National Geographic, some short stories by H.P. Lovecraft,
    books on folklore or history. Find a new location, or a forgotten hobby to get excited about - sometimes an article can get
    your creative juices flowing. An article on skin diving sparked my fantasy story, Fish Stix, about a vampyric mermaid.
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    As Cog would say, every story and plot has been done before. It's your take and idea that matters. I'll take Mass Effect because people say my world is a little bit like it. The idea "Alien's are going to destroy the Earth and/or Galaxy" has been done before. What made it's story different was it's take on the idea. Dr. Who's Cybermen and Daleks came out in the 1960's...yet Rick Berman combined the two to create The Borg-along with the similar story lines about assimilation and/or destruction.

    So, it's your take, and how you write it that matters.
     
  8. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Heh, take a look at the New York Times Bestseller list. I'd say all of them,(Except Life of Pi) have very simple plots. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, detective hunts for a killer, serial mastermind fools everybody, etc...

    It's all in what you do with it. There's 10,000 ways to cook and prepare chicken, but it's still chicken. ;)
     
  9. nemuyoake
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    nemuyoake New Member

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    Why don't you just write what you want to write ? I don't get why you want to ''logically'' chose what kind of stories (aka what may get commercial success by its presumed originality) you'll write instead of writing what is inspiring you.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Commercial success invariably comes from what you do with it, not from a unique story idea. Turning JJ'a analogy around, if you challenge twenty top chefs to create a main dish with chicken and mushrooms, and you will get twenty superlative and distinctive entrees.

    Originality is in the details.
     
  11. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Because as Cog said, commercial success comes more from what you do with your idea them some supreme "brand new" idea. It goes back to the fact that just about every plot's been done before, and lots of things, especially in science fiction, are offshoots of something that's already happened. See my comment about "The Borg." If you've ever watched Dr. Who before you recognize off the bat that they're a combination of the Cybermen and Daleks, but what makes it work? The originality of putting them into one amalgam instead of two separate.

    Even the massive world I've not created for my novels going forwards has it's inspiration from various shows I've seen done in a different way. I've got four MC's who are the last of their race who survive genocide, there's a galaxy full of friendly and hostile aliens, a cybernetic threat, lots of things. Personally I could sit back and name 3-4 different inspiration items are in it, but it's still different.

    It goes back to what you do with your idea-not how how fancy and flowery it is.
     
  12. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    You can take one idea and twist it into something new. Hunger Games, for example, is similar to Battle Royale. However, it takes place in the future where a feudal like dictator government controls thirteen poor condition districts. The government use the Hunger Games as a way to control the districts for both entertainment and power. The author gave the novel a good reason of the Hunger Games, and an interesting setting.
     
  13. evelon
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    evelon Active Member

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    Try writing from the heart instead of the brain. If you try to overthink the plot, the characters, the setting etc. all you'll get is a stilted story that lacks feeling. Sitting in front of a blank screen trying to work out what you want to write isn't going to do a thing for you. Start writing and let it happen naturally. If there's something there, it'll show itself. If there isn't, all the planning in the world won't make it happen.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It helps if you look into different cultures and start meshing things together. Each culture will have some traditional ways of doing things - so some Japanese concepts are fairly ordinary to Japanese people but to the western eye it'd be shocking.

    For example, watch Mononoke Hime by Miyazaki - I recognise most of those things as common to Japanese mythology but to my foreign eye (I'm not Japanese) it took me 4 goes to actually understand the whole thing and enjoy it. It was just so bizarre. And I grew up with anime (I'm Chinese) so it's not even completely unknown to me. The mythology in Spirited Away (another film by Miyazaki) was more familiar to me, but even then it was very strange.

    Yet another interesting film by the same guy is Totoro - a forest spirit that's become an iconic figure, equivalent to Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh. Worth checking out - there's a creature in that film that I've literally NEVER seen again in either Japanese or Western media, and it's still the most excellent creature I've ever seen :D There're also friendly soot gremlins.

    But yeah, just write :) No two stories are completely identical - it's all in how you handle the idea.

    I couldn't resist, so I've attached the picture of the creature in question. Believe it or not, it's a bus.
    2868-2055243460.jpg
     
  15. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Tell me about the goddamned dog.

    Tell me a good story, with characters I care about.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    One way to go: start with a guy. Write enough about him so you feel you know what kind of guy he is, and why others might like him (who he is, not what he's done). Next, think of something he really wants or needs to accomplish, either for himself or for someone else. After that, think up all the things that can happen to prevent him from accomplishing his goal. Then, figure out how he overcomes all of that. Or doesn't. Don't worry if it's been done before. Because it has. Just not with your guy.

    As for settings being original, don't worry about it. Who says they have to be? Some of my favorite novels are set in locales I, the reader, know intimately.
     
  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or a girl. Or a middle-aged transvestite. Or a Catbus (thanx Mckk, forgot all about that excellent movie!) Just don't start with a divorced alcohol-abusing piano teacher with pedophilia-issues and a large magic trunk. That's my idea and I'm gonna sue you if you use it :D

    On the serious note, I strongly believer that you should completely drop the issue of originality. Just forget about it. There is no way you're gonna start writing (or painting, or playing an instrument, or playing with a camcorder) without initially copying, mimicking or blatantly ripping off whatever comes in your way. There is nothing wrong with that - you are using to use the expressive medium that is the written language, in the same way a small child can't learn to speak without spelling out words.
     
  18. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    Really, you shouldn't concentrate too much on such issues. Have you considered to change the field of writing for a little bit?
     
  19. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Originality is, as the posters above have stated, impossible. The point I want to make is that it is also undesirable.

    It's possible for a writer to invent bizarre situations and ridiculous characters, and set them in a preposterous story structure, all in the hopes of achieving originality. But generally speaking, nobody wants to read that. They can't relate to it, so it means nothing to them, and they put the book aside with a sigh.

    People respond strongly to characters and situations they can relate to. Characters falling in love, sacrificing for each other, betraying each other, overcoming odds, succeeding triumphantly or failing tragically. It doesn't matter if you're writing a novel set in contemporary New York City or a fantasy in Middle Earth or a space opera with aliens as your main characters, the readers have to be able to relate.

    This is why all of literature is basically retellings of the same stories over and over again. Sure, they've been reinvented for modern 21st century audiences, but the stories are pretty much the same. They're the same because those old stories are extremely powerful and moving to people - John Gardner said that through fiction we exercise emotions that are important to us in our real lives. That's as good a definition of literature as any I've seen.

    Originality, as most people conceive it, puts too much distance between the reader and the characters, and hence does not allow the readers to exercise those emotions. Readers would rather have a story that makes them feel for the characters, and they don't give a sh*t about originality.

    So feel free to retell the old stories. Your "originality" is in your voice, the lens through which you see the material, but the story will be the same as the older stories. It could be argued that the closer you get to myth, that oldest and deepest well of stories, the stronger your story gets.

    Screw originality. Tell us stories that move us.
     
  20. Kinch
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    Kinch Member

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    An analogy to show my idea of originality:

    Think of all the umbrella terms you've ever heard in writing theory as genes in this big genome, and everyone that's ever written something in that category as producing a genetic mutation of whatever "genes" they implement.

    Hope this helps you.
     
  21. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    Mainly I think characters matter more than the unorignal setting and story plot.
     
  22. GoldenFeather
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    The way I see it, nothing can ever be 100% original. Everything has already been written about.

    I have an equation for this type of problem:

    Typical situation + atypical character (example, simply have to ride the bus but character schizophrenic)

    The most interesting stories are the typical ones. You can think of any famous book and it's nothing new or original, it's the characters who make the story more interesting (Even think of Sheldon who has a typical life, but has some OCD and is arrogant which is what makes the stories interesting). Or perhaps even Lost (people stranded on an island, but one is a convict, another an ex-Iraqi torturer etc).

    It's the characters that make stories original. No story is original, its the way it is written or the characters it beholds.
     
  23. cmshepard
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    cmshepard Member

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    Exactly - what separates one story from another is how it's presented by the writer.

    Ex:
    The house was haunted.
    A belligerent poltergeist plagued the people living in the home.
    Demons threatened the safety of those within.
    Untold hundreds of deaths brought spirits to the building.

    Mostly the same concept, but you can see the point.
     
  24. DDNeal
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    I personaly think stories are far more about characters than about plot. Plots just expose who the characters are and give you a reason to start and end your tale about them. If you have likeable or interesting characters that people connect with you could use a very common setting and it still works.
     
  25. FictionAsVeneer
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    Just giver'
     

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