1. Lextrius
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    Lextrius Member

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    Does this ever happen to you?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lextrius, May 24, 2009.

    Do you ever have this great idea for a story, and then eventually when you're half-way through with it you discover there was already another book (or film, play, whatever) out there that is very similar to it? This happens to me all the time and I hate it. It's very frustrating, because I know I came up with these ideas independently, but if I ever showed it to people and they saw the similarities, they would think I was trying to rip off another story.
     
  2. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Not really. Before I start anything I usually procrastinate starting it with quite a bit of research.
     
  3. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    On occasion that does happen, but it does not mean you have to give it up. It wont be exactly the same, and as long as it is interesting, well written, and has a good story people wont really care. Unless your idea is similar to that of the movie open water, then no, just don't lol.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think the truth is there's always something else out there that deals with the same "idea," really. And while that can be exceptionally important to consider in a film or a story that's written primarily for commercial value, it's much less important for literary fiction where the identifiable beauty of the story lies in the very particular way it's authored--that is, written, conceived, and delivered in a way that could only come from the particular writer who wrote it.

    I don't mean "literary" as opposed to "genre." I mean "literary" as an approach to one's writing as a matter of self-expression (as opposed to an objective to write a movie-worthy best-seller)--an artform as opposed to a money-maker.

    Take a look at the thread about post-apocalyptic stories, e.g., where Cormac McCarthy has written, conceived, and delivered an exceptionally unique story, while many other PA stories have fallen flat on their face as being knock-offs of others that simply were better written.

    Or think about how many vampire stories are out there, none of which (however good or bad) have damaged the durability of Bram Stoker's DRACULA. And while the genre doesn't appeal to me much, Karen Russel's "Vampires in the Lemon Grove" (a BASS pick by Rushdie), I thought, was entirely unique and memorable.

    If you think of writing a story as being ABOUT presenting an idea, then you're doomed from the get-go to live up to the competition that's guaranteed to be out there in abundance. It seems to me, though, if you think of writing a story as being more about the story that emerges from the idea than about the idea itself, then your competition with other such stories isn't really the issue.
     
  5. Strange Visitor
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    Strange Visitor New Member

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    It happens to me a lot. I avoided Stephen King's work my whole life because my overactive imagination made me terrified of anything horror-related. Then I tried out the Dark Tower series, and fell in love. (Admittedly, I don't like most of his other work, but damn that series is good.) I wrote about 15,000 words of my own novel about a boy named Will who can heal nightmare creatures, and loses his little brother Henry to one of them that drags him away into the closet. I had half a notebook full of plot notes in addition to those 15K words already rough drafted.

    Now, I kid you not, *two weeks* after I'd written that scene I listened to the audiobook of "It", and found about "Bill" losing his little brother "George" to the clown in the sewer. Not only are Will and Bill the same name, but I seem to be channeling Stephen King before I even read his books...there were so many other similar plot points and ideas in "It" that I almost despaired. I felt certain people would call me a plagiarist. But, eh...**** it. I'll write my own story, and it will be different.
     
  6. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I did that for one of my creative writing class assignments. I was channeling Sex and The City. I called it my homage to the show. My teacher thought the characters and the storyline was different enough for it, so I got an A, but he said if I wanted to use the story for a novel idea, I should develop the characters deeper.

    I've never really gone back to the story, but I might someday. I have to say my teacher, William Noble, was pretty good. I still use his books on writing, Show Don't Tell, Three Rules, Shut Up! He explained, and Elements of writing fiction.

    Usually if I find I am writing something that seems like something I've seen a million times, I stop writing it. If I feel like I've seen it a hundred times, then I probably have and will end up copying someone else's plot and characters. Sometimes, I'll take that story and turn it completely around, make everything opposites.

    Like, if the setting is LA, I change it to Maine, or Michigan. If the characters are pretty well off, I make them poor and disenchanted. If it's a love story, I change it into a tragedy and kill someone off.

    Every now and then an interesting story I haven't already heard a thousand and one times, will emerge. Usually the stories end up in the...poo pile, though.
     
  7. afinemess
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    afinemess Active Member

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    Once of twice I have had this happen. Usually, I talk through my story with someone, and see there opinion, and they are quick to see something I dont. I did this once with my husband, only to have him say "So I guess you watched My Girl recently." haha And that idea quickly got put on the back burner.
     
  8. Anir
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    Anir Senior Member

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    I usually don't run into that problem that much, but I haven't told many people my ideas. Even so, the one I've told people about has been described as pretty original, so I'm not too worried.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether you are aware of the existence of similar stories or not, they are out there. You're better off not worrying
     
  10. NICKP2009
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    NICKP2009 Member

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    I think if you make your writing very detailed and personal...then your authenticity will be very evident...I'm a big believer that most things we think [have already been thought of by someone, somewhere, at one point or another],however, I'd find it very rare that exactly what we think has been recorded. The end result lies in the power of your writing.
     
  11. AngeloBraxton
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    AngeloBraxton Member

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    That happens to me occasionally. I have a 110 page manuscript I've written that I thought was very original but I saw something that was extremely similar on this website. So, yes it does happen to me from time to time.
     
  12. NICKP2009
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    NICKP2009 Member

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    I've also seen comedians that when you watch films and compare their acts...their jokes are very similar. As a matter of fact, Carlos Mencia or "Men Stealia" has been flamed for his jokes too closely resembling other comedians. But, people still regard him as a great entertainer and pay to listen to "his" jokes.
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nick, it's not just the joke that makes him great. It's how he delivers it. You could get ten people telling the exact same joke, and still some will be better than others because of their talent and delivery style.
     

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