1. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    Getting ideas from other media

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ProsonicLive, Apr 22, 2013.

    This is an ideology that seems to be a disagreement between me and my friends and I want to know what you guys think.
    The concept is taking small ideas from say, a TV show, not the whole plot of an episode, but small mechanics. Say I take the baseline of what elves are from Tolkien. Or the given explanation for how a
    space battle typically unfolds from Mass effect (video game for those who do not know) or if I read a story and like a certain character, so I base a character very much off of them in my own story, obviously not the same name or history, but in the way he/she handles problems. I in no way encourage ripping off a whole piece of lit,or even primary events, but what do you guys feel about smaller elements that make a story really good. Lets say I wanted to build a protagonist from Randall Flagg (a king character) He would not be evil but some of the base personality traits would be there. Not to say that a protagonist could be made from that character in any convincing way, but that is the idea. thanks for your thoughts.
     
  2. JohnnyElsewhere
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    JohnnyElsewhere Member

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    My father told me once (might be paraphrasing) "A good writer creates. A GREAT writer steals." If someone can tell me where that's from, I'd be very thankful.

    On to the topic at hand.

    I think that a lot of people get inspiration from the television they watch, video games they play, books they read, simply because they relate to them. I, for one, was basing some of my fiction writing from a book I read by Ernest Cline called "Ready Player One," but it turned into something completely different as I got further into the writing.

    I think that it's a great thing that there are so many things to draw inspiration from; and with the ever-expanding realm of technology around us, I think this is only the beginning for us writers. :D
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    TV/movies inspire me surprisingly lot. The MMC of the novel T. Trian and I are working on is actually very much inspired by Colonel O'Neill from StargĂ…te (couldn't resist. I love to type it like that). Except, you know, my hardened army dude is gay, but otherwise there're some similarities; the sense of humor and the fact that he's often the tallest guy in the room.

    And even if one "ripped off" a character, say, the looks, the occupation, etc. it'd turn very different in another person's hands. Hell, one could say Sterling Archer is a James Bond rip-off: the clothes are the same, he's got a drinking and sex habit, he's super handsome and capable, and is also a secret agent in an agency run by an older woman.

    But he's still very different. Yes, a parody to a degree, but still "a person" of its own.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a quote from T.S. Eliot, often repeated in the writing world. I believe that the actual quote used "borrows" rather than "creates," though.

    But on to the question, this sort of thing is done all the time. Being inspired by a character, and using certain characteristics and personality traits isn't so different from being inspired by a real person and using those traits. The character, likewise, was somehow inspired by a real person or by real people the author encountered.

    There are a finite number of character traits and personality types. It may seem like there are a lot, but it is still a finite number. So for every personality type, there are a large number of people who will share it (and a lot of fictional characters, as well.)
     
  5. Nicki_G
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    Nicki_G Member

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    I've read in many different places that in order to keep your writing great, you should should read many authors and keep up with the changes as much as possible. I find that if I'm not really into anything at the moment or I haven't read anything in a while, my ideas tend to fall flat. I do get inspired by things I watch, read, and hear. I think it's the nature of writers to be inspired by other media. We can't come up with EVERYTHING! Even if we thought we've come up with something unique and original, chances are that someone else has already done it or you've seen it done but can't recall it.
     
  6. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    Yeah, personally, I don't know a single writer that hasn't borrowed some sort of idea from somewhere else. Hell, I know writers that borrow ideas from other books. Prime example: multiple factors found in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series have a direct link to factors found in JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings (the MC being raised by his uncle, the giant spider, the bearded, wise wizard...). But despite those things that she borrowed from elsewhere, she was still able to create a remarkably creative story, and no one would ever accuse her of something like plagiarism because of them.
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Waaaayyyyyy back in the dark ages of television, there was a comedian named Milton Burl. (Some of you might have seen him on re-runs of this or that talk show or variety show (another concept from the daot).

    He was frequently accused (not by fellow comedians, however) of not using original material. I believe it was an excerpt from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson where Carson was laughing and wiping tears at something Burl had said. Then, Burl replied to a Carson Comment, "I steal nothing but the best."

    Of course, Burl wasn't stealing material from other comics any more than writers steal from other writers (with the rare plagiaristic exception).

    The question at this point, then, is, if you don't take your inspiration and ideas from music or vid games or movies or ... whatever, where do the ideas come from? We like to think that all of our ideas come from some deep well within us. But the truth is, SOME, not necessarily all of our ideas are, almost unavoidably, going to come from those very sources of movies, music , etc. In other words, other writers. But, because we have a different set of life experiences and our minds work differently, we are going to see that germ of an idea differently from the inspiration's original creator.

    The answer to, "What if ...?" is always going to be different for each of us.
     
  8. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    ive actually a very good idea for something using the music from Imaginaerum (Nightwish album) as a spark
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Writing inspiration comes from anywhere and anything.
     
  10. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    Sure, I do this all the time. My latest (and obviously greatest) project includes a female lead based almost entirely off Makise Kurisu from the anime Steins;Gate. I was fascinated by the character's personality and chemistry with the male lead, but as a character dealing in the scientific realm, I thought it'd be a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone in terms of characterization.
     
  11. Inquisitor Ehrenstein
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    Inquisitor Ehrenstein Member

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    I think you're supposed to shamelessly rip off other material. Obviously, don't infringe on trademarks, but there's nothing wrong with ripping off what you find. Ripping off you own life can be better, since it's less obvious. Most of the parties I write about are like that. The "all characters, places, and events are fictional" is a totally bogus legal disclaimer that never reflects reality.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Every idea is already in existence or has been used at some point. Ever try to come up with a new color using no current existing colors? Exactly.

    Inspiration can come from anywhere. I wouldn't recommend jacking someone else's work and just replacing names and slapping your name on the finished product. That isn't very ethical. Inspiration is another matter entirely.
     
  13. Inquisitor Ehrenstein
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    Inquisitor Ehrenstein Member

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    I wouldn't recommend being that blatant either. Though a lot of companies don't seem to have problems with it... (Games Workshop, Dune, and threatening to sue over a chainsword axe...) Plus people will pick up when you blatantly repackage another story. It's a lot harder to tell when you rip off your own life, plus people won't care as much if they know since it's not like you're committing a legal version of plagiarism.
     
  14. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Most of my writing comes from inspiration from watching a show or movie or playing a game. When something grabs me emotionally, visually and powerfully, I want to recreate that feeling. Ignoring that kind of inspiration will only stunt the full potential of your writing.
     
  15. Jonathan Lane
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    Jonathan Lane New Member

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    Its fine to me

    I don't see the problem in borrowing from other medium to create your story. Its impossible not to do so anyway, as we're inspired every day by something we've read or seen or heard in various places, why fight it? Now that doesn't mean to just go out and straight up rip off someone else, but if you see a character in another story you like, tweek them and make them your own. I'm writing a dis utopian story right now, and I've been inspired from by many stories including movies, anime, and various books I've read. Stealing stuff from stories is bad, but allowing that inspiration to help grow your story is another thing entirely.
     
  16. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Very, very true, be it in literature, film, or music. Now it's just about taking something and doing it your own way. The WIP KaTrian already mentioned and its FMC were inspired by the music of an old video game called Metroid.

    I seem to have a quote day today, but oh well:
    "Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
    -Salvador Dali
     
  17. ducedo
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    ducedo New Member

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    If you remove enough details you'll find a lot of similarities between popular works:

    https://www.roddenberry.com/media/upload/image/camerons%20pocahontas.jpg

    Sometimes books and filmes even incorporate characters, numbers or scenes from other films as a tribute. Unfortunately I can't come up with any examples on the spot. It's a fine line though.
     
  18. g_man526
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    g_man526 Member

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    Now that's interesting. I don't suppose there are any excerpts in the workshop? Because I'd love to read that.
     
  19. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    I feel much the same way, It is good to feel I am not alone. my case in point was primarily in video games. They are terrible at unrealized great ideas and characters. they also have less of an excuse than other media because they have more time and content. like three dog in fallout 3, or thane krios in mass effect 2&3 (especially 3) while other terrible ideas get passed, like all the pointless bomb making in AC revaluations. while that is actually a rabit trail into game making mechanics, it is good example as to what I am talking about with story telling. there are only so many chords that can be made on a guitar and only so many arrangements that do not sound like crap before you are left sounding like something else. such is true with stories. only so many concepts before you, in order to sound uniqe, start writing things that either make your reader go "hu?" or "why did I just read that" or the worst..."uhhh...mkay"
    so, I am not sure why some of my writing friends have such strong emotions against it.
     
  20. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually there is one excerpt in the Novels-section: Solus. My female MC was partly inspired by Samus, especially the fact that in the first game, the players had no idea she was a human, much less a woman, which gave me the idea to armor up the MC and send her off to jaunt through space, end up in abandoned space stations, tough battles etc... and knowing how Samus looks prompted me to steer clear from writing a big boobed hottie. :D
    When I'm inspired by something, I always like to toy around with the idea in my version, change lots of details, really mold it into something that's mine. In the end, most wouldn't pick up on what inspired the idea unless I tell them (and in some cases even then they fail to make the connection if I've really gone out of my way to "customize" the source of the inspiration).

    This actually reminds me of a funny way to come up with new riffs and melodies that I discovered by accident: I was vacuuming the house and I had music playing in the background, but the damn vacuum cleaner was so loud I couldn't make out which song was playing. I just heard a cool riff or a chord progression etc. quickly wrote it down, and then went to check which song was playing and then realized it was some song I knew and that what I had heard was completely wrong, but the result was an original riff that had nothing to do with the song coming from the stereo. :cool:
     
  21. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Maybe they just want to sound like "unique writers", but they don't realize themselves that they are taking elements from mainstream media. I wouldn't listen to them, just follow your own instincts. I think you know where to draw the line between recreation and plagiarism.

    edit: of course going wild with plot and character to stray from mainstream ideas can be good at times, but you should blend the "original" with the "unfamiliar" or else--like you said--the reader is just going to say "the fuck did I just read?"
     
  22. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    All of my works have been inspired by other media in some way or another. Heroes and X-Men both gave me a good amount of inspiration for my current project along with my own life experiences. They sort of kick started it then it took on a life of it's own. There are now very small similarities and it veers off into it's own territory pretty quickly. :)

    Ooohhh I like that quote! I do love Dali. :)
     

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