1. Canan Kanturk
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    Canan Kanturk New Member

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    Far-fetched Originality?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Canan Kanturk, Dec 9, 2014.

    This is a subject that it's really nagging at me. I know there are threads already opened up about this, but I think I need an opinion specifically regarding the examples below, cause I've read the threads and they just didn't click.

    One examples:
    Let's say I got inspired by the timeline framework in the novel I read before: Specifically the story is told in the present and past and goes back and forth every chapter. But with a meaningful pattern, by switching the time on specific points in the story. So I've decided to use either the same idea regarding the timeline switches or a similar one. But I don't have anything else similar in my story or the plot.
    Do you think this makes my story less original?

    Another example:
    Using typical characters: Businessman. Or Housewife. Or Teenage. Or woman/man with a past of sexual abuse. Or determined and passionate detective. Depending on your genre. At what point does the level of similarity makes your character (anr/or the story) less original?

    Another:
    Let's take Suspense. When the plot and/or the story is completely different (though we are still in the lane of suspense), using similar (or even same, or common) ways to feed the build-up of suspense, does this perhaps makes the story less original?

    Any thoughts?
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi Canan K, welcome to the forum.

    There are no completely original stories. We all build on our past experiences. So are you asking if that is OK? Because, yes, it is. Or are you asking how not to do that? It's doubtful that you can. The idea is to take an existing idea(s), or theme(s), or character(s) and put your new original mark on it.
     
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  3. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    I think it's absolutely fine, depending on how you handle the idea. I think most writers strive to be original but it's hard and you could drive yourself crazy over it. How many vampire novels and films are there, for example? Some take an excellent spin on a classic, others (without being rude!!)...don't.

    In my opinion, some of the ideas/themes are classic for good reason, but it's what you do with them or where you take them that matters. The originality comes in the detail and the way you tell the story.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Originality is overrated.

    Harry Potter - orphan chosen kid who ends up at the school of wizardry. Hardly original.
    Fault in Our Stars - cancer kids fall in love and one of them dies. Even less original.
    Lord of the Rings - Different races uniting under a common cause to destroy a particular object.

    If you strive to be completely original, you'll probably just never write. As long as the idea excites you, go ahead and write it. As long as the events of the story and its tropes work, go ahead and write them all. In the end, an appropriately used trope is gonna be far more powerful than "originality". All these things are devices to bring your story to life - so as long as it does that to perfection, or as close to that as you can get, what does it matter whether it's original or not?

    That's not to say don't try to be original. It's good to explore different ways and it's good to sometimes choose not to use a common trope and instead choose a more difficult but refreshing way to tell your story. But it's no good to get too concerned about it.

    You create characters people love, no one's gonna care if it's original or not :)
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This exactly.
    Plus, that would discount an entire publishing company like Harlequin and all the thousands of writers and millions of readers who don't mind a familiar form. In fact they find it comforting. I'm one of them - :) I used to love - and still do - First Love from Silhouettes & Sweet Dreams ya romances.
     
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  6. Canan Kanturk
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    Canan Kanturk New Member

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    Comfort is one thing but there is a delicate line between comfort and annoyance in that respect.

    As much as I personally find the same thing comforting, there were times I could not help but get annoyed by the same familiarity.
    I'm just trying to figure out this implicit distinction.
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you have anything to worry about. Everything you listed sounds like basic stuff everybody does. We all use archetypes, plot structures, and tropes based on what we've read. Entire genres are defined largely by those archetypes and tropes. It's the wrapping paper that changes, or maybe the use of tropes that aren't normally used together.

    Heck, I pretty much ripped off my entire worldbuilding technique from Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" because I loved how he made his kooky world feel real (I later discovered this helps me because Chabon is a literary author and as such his technique was different from genre authors, so it really helps my genre work). That said, my world doesn't look a darn thing like Chabon's, so the fact that I'm using his tricks doesn't make the story less original.
     
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  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    The basic stepping stones of your book will look like other books. What matters is your own interpretation of it. I could take the basic premises of The Fault in Our Stars and write a wholly different book with the only similarity between John Green's characters and mine is that one of them has cancer. How, you might ask?

    Set in 2249 AD, Commander Joel Patrick is on a mission to deliver an important package to an alien princess under the nose of a rival alien clan. Failure in this mission will result in a bloody interplanetary war between the two alien clans and Earth. (...) His backstory is that he's a cancer survivor, but the story isn't about the cancer (...) He befriends and flirts with a lady (...) One of them dies in the harrowing climax.

    See?
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think the trick is very simple. Create completely original characters.

    Base them on somebody you know, or let them evolve into a person who is not like anybody else. If you can create a cast of unforgettably unique characters, and allow their personalities to interact the way they naturally would (rather than forcing them into a mold ...the chatty one, the depressed one, the boring one, the adverturous one) your story is bound to be unique.

    Push the envelope on this one. Don't base them on characters you've read about elsewhere. Base them on somebody you know. Or base at least one of them on yourself. You are unique. Your character will be too.

    If you throw these unique people into scenarios we've all seen before, they won't feel same-y. I can think of no better example of this than Joe Abercrombie. He took fantasy tropes and turned them all on their heads, because his characters are so strong and so unforgettable and not based on other fantasy characters at all. Who can forget Ninefingers or Glokta? Or Ardee West? None of them do what you'd expect them to do, and that changes everything.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2014
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  10. LetaDarnell
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    LetaDarnell Member

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    Stop trying so hard. Look at the original stuff that happened when someone DIDN'T panic over originality.

    Elfquest- Elves are telepathic aliens who have to fight both prejudice cavemen and those who have lost their sanity dealing with both mortality and immortality. They seek out a spaceship (twice) that enhances magic abilities as the plot. Also, most can only truly mate if they magically form some bond with another elf of the opposite six, which can only happen when looking into their eyes.

    Dark Crystal--Two muppets must join forces and use the aid of strange creatures to make a large floating crystal whole again to re-unite a race or sadists and pacifists.

    Dark Crystal- David Bowie steals a baby, forcing his 14-year-old sister to brave her way through his ever-changing maze while hitting on her, trying to kill her, and letting her wander into roaming bands of muppets.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (many versions)-They have flown around in a spaceship that look's like a cow's head. They've played gladiatorial games on another planet. They've helped dinosaurs defeat other dinosaurs in space. They fight a samurai who is actually a space-alien blob in a robot suit. One dates a fox. They have fought battletoads. They have teamed up with battle toads. The daughter of their master was abducted by a rival samurai and later turned into a shark-human hybrid as punishment. Did I mention they're turtle-human hybrid things taught ninjitsu in a sewer by a rat-human hybrid and drive a car in the sewer?

    Just write stuff. Strange and unusual will come to you.
     
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  11. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    I guess it depends on how popular the material that you are basing your story off of is. If you are writing a story about a kid going to wizard school and finding his true destiny then everyone will think you copied Harry Potter. If you are writing about a spaceship made out of light going past its destination and everyone trying to figure out why, that is fine because no one will ever know you copied my idea.
     
  12. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope. Originality is a measure of what you include, not what you exclude. A mix of old and new still contains new, no matter how much old it contains.
     
  13. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Quick, How many completely original works did Shakespeare write? Plays that weren't sequels, based on history, or outright remakes (Romeo and Juliette was a remake of a play written 10 years earlier called Romeous and Jullietta)

    4. Out of the 50 surviving plays, four of them were completely original.
    The Tempest, Loves Labor Lost, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
     
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  14. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I relate this concept to paint.
    Do we expect painters to invent new colors? No.
    Is it even possible to invent new colors? I don't know but I doubt it.
    Do you look at a painter and say "you know that other painter used red too, you could try being original"? No
    Themes are the paint we use. It is not up to use to create new paint but to combine them in a way that makes them beautiful to see.
     
  15. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a good point, because Shakespeare is incontrovertibly one of the most creative authors who ever lived. Just goes to show that creativity takes many forms, the least of which is the basic plot.
     
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  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    It is absolutely possible to invent new colors, it happens all the time. Easy example: Titanium white, the most commonly used white paint, brighter then chalk white, or limestone white. It's made from titanium dioxide and wasn't invented until 1821 and couldn't be mass produced until the twentieth century.
     
  17. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Splitting hairs maybe but it was discovered not created. In a sense I see it as all possible colors existed already plus if we could or not isn't really the point of what I said anyhow. lol
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No, because putting the pigment in a medium changes it. So acrylic titanium white and linseed titanium white are actually two different colors, neither of which was around until it was ground up and put into the medium.

    I understand your point, you didn't get mine: you don't know anything about paint.
     
  19. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fair enough, I am no expert on paint.
     
  20. LetaDarnell
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    LetaDarnell Member

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    Or that bad Earth Sea thing on Sci-Fi. Or Twilight if 'finding yourself' is romance. Or Utena, if it's surreal. Or Fushgi Yuugi if you find yourself by going to another world via a book. Or Naruto if its a martial arts school. Or Discworld if it's really funny. Or Magic User's Blub if it's just cutesy and silly. Or Vampire High if it's poorly paced and written. Or...etc.

    Write a story about a boy going to wizard school if you want. Write YOU story about a boy going to wizard school though.
     
  21. ogu
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    ogu New Member

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    For one, framework is not your story. The story is yours already. Also if it's your first try at book writing I wouldn't recommend using time switches, that's how I messed up my first try :)

    For the other two I just have this to say: Don't make it too predictable and you're good to go.
     
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