1. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Has harry potter consumed the school fantasy genre

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Bartleby, Dec 7, 2010.

    I had an Idea, about a fine arts school where the kids using their art IE dancing, painting, singing could preform special feats, Like a child who can bring his drawings to life, a painter who can go into paintings and rearange them however he sees fit, a scultpor who sees what an object is supposed to be and then is able to pull it out, a dancer who when she dances controls the wind, and just an entire school of special children like this. But when I was writing I just felt like the entire Academy for Gifted children had been totally consumed over the ages, X-men, Harry Potter, is there room is this genre?
     
  2. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Um, no offense, but I find the idea that a dozen odd books can consume an entire genre to be pretty hilarious. Harry Potter brought tons of kids into reading, and when people read a book they like they often look for books that are similar. That's at least part of why things like Percy Jackson ("Schoolkids fighting monsters and doing quests"), Charlie Bone ("Schoolkids solving problems and doing magic"), Grossman's The Magicians ("Magical kids go to college and fight a demigod"), Twilight ("High schooler has to deal with vampires and werewolves") and similar are so popular.

    Instead of worrying, consider this: academies of one kind or another are fairly common in fantasy fiction, just as they are in realistic fiction. People go to school to learn, after all, and in settings where magic is a skill you have to practice, it makes sense that they'd go somewhere to be tutored in magical arts.

    So don't worry about fantasy schools being "consumed" by Harry Potter. Instead, spend some time reading into fantasy works that feature magical academies -- in addition to those listed above, A Wizard of Earthsea and The Name of the Wind might be useful -- and strive to make yours unique.

    As long as you have an interesting story to tell, and as long as you can write competently, you should be fine.
     
  3. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    If make it your own, I see no problems with it and I would want to read it. But that is just it, with the popularity of X-men and Harry Potter, there are definitely doppelgangers trying to cash in, some purposely putting similarities in their stories to sell them. I think it's smart money-wise but it's like selling your soul to the writing devil. I know you're not trying to do that but my point is, that is what people like and if you write to what people want, you are going to be successful.

    Just don't do a vampire/werewolf novel and we are kosher haha
     
  4. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Thank you all for the reassurance and dont worry Celia, if I do a vampire story it will be the medieval sneak into your bedroom and rape you in your sleep die the the sun vampire. no glitter.
     
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  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Using the school idea should be fine, as long as you aren't using hyppogriffs, house elves, 4 houses, etc. Just like writing high fantasy is fine as long as you aren't constantly using Tolkein's stuff instead of your own.
     
  6. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    I agree, make it your own. Even though the backdrop is the same, what makes a good story is the part that you make unique to your story..

    I liked the Harry Potter series, but I also liked the Worst Witch series that came before it (Jill Murphy). In fact, when I first started reading Harry Potter my first thought was, "boy, this is really similar to the Worst Witch series, especially the terminology". But, in the end J.K made Harry Potter her own creation and her spin on things made for a nice read.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Purple Candle says Harry Potter wasn't the first - yours doesn't sound similar beyond the setting.
     
  8. Klogg
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    Klogg Member

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    I think there is definitely a place for that kind of story. In fact, were I to run across the book in the bookstore or library, I would probably give it a chance. Just because a great number of books have been written in and about the school setting, that does not mean that there is not room for a good story based in a school.

    I really like your idea of the students using their various arts in such a way. You have to remember that there are only so many different settings in existence. For example, say I write a story about a man who gets shipwrecked, makes it home, finds his wife was killed, hunts down the killer, gets recruited by the CIA, discovers a conspiracy, finds a trusty dog companion to keep him company, stops the conspiracy, finds happiness.

    There are many books about shipwrecks, vengeful family of victims, government agents, finding companionship, and conspiracies. To my knowledge however there has never been a story with all these elements combined. It's not just finding new settings and ideas that's important, it's taking old ideas or concepts and reinventing them.
     
  9. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    I appreciate all the feedback, and the very logical views, If you would like to read a snippet of the story I posted it under novel as Bartleby and The Painted World, critiques are also appreciated, very new to the writing scene.
     
  10. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    This particular school theme is... well everywhere. People go off to Trade Schools for whatever they want to learn in the real life. Then there are the Police Academies and Medical/Law Schools. Then there are Art Schools such as Juliard.

    The X-Men, Harry Potter, and the others are basicly following this idea. That those with similar talents/skills/abilities are going to the same school. Perhaps they can learn their mutant abilities or magic elsewhere, but Hogwarts and the academy in X Men are some of the top places for those people.

    Schools where people with talents and the likes are not only common througout fiction, but in the real world aswell.
     
  11. darthjim
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    darthjim Member

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    You can make any idea original. Just write what you see (like Catchphrase, but with writing and less Roy Walker) in your head. Don't write for anyone else, don't worry about whether something is "too commercial", "not commercial enough" or has been "done before". Write what you love, what you believe in, and do it as well as you can.

    Just promise me you won't "pull a Rowling" and lazily copy-paste characters, scenarios, bits and pieces from a myriad well-known and lesser-known fantasy writers and pass them off as your own. I may not have mentioned this, but I despise Harry Potter.

    Be gentle.
     
  12. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Hah come on darthjim everyone knows Rowling created Nicholas Flamel *Sarcasm*
     
  13. darthjim
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    darthjim Member

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    Don't get me started. I'll be all like "Graaaaaghhhhh, she can't write" and people will be all like "oooh, Jim, you're a moron Rowling is a genius" and then I'll lose all faith in humanity and have to kill myself and frankly I just don't have the time for another suicide tonight.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    But really don't we all take away ideas we pass off as our own. Hands up know I do.

    In my first one I turned my MC into a falcon (He-Man), the baddy was a Great Skua (St Kilda documentary), world combines science and magic because of power gained from being at centre of universe (again He-Man), I am sure there are a myriad of others I have stolen consciously sometimes, unconsiously others.

    This one my MC has a retractable magic bow (She-Ra), the time travel method is a mix of Howls Moving Castle (Ghibli film over the book), Tom's Midnight Garden and Narnia. The ending was inspired by Torchwood. I have Lewis Carroll in my book and have used ideas from Wonderland etc Some of my characters are historical caricatures. The idea of using fireflies as the blood cells of the universe came from a song.

    Highly doubt there is much original in my books. I watch something, listen to it, etc get inspired and think ahah.

    I know if I am very honest my stories are a bunch of ideas stolen from other people.
     
  15. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    I loved Howls Moving Castle...I just had to say that haha
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    me too lol I just love the Ghibli films - I pinched the clock changing the door idea from there. :)
     
  17. darthjim
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    darthjim Member

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    Naturally, we are all creatures of absorption and repetition – what comes out is only ever a construct of what's gone in (as King Solomon said, "there is nothing new under the sun").

    Nevertheless, I object to blatant poaching, or the kind of blatant poaching where one thinks that by merely 'tweaking' something, the reader won't notice. When such poaching is done on a grand scale throughout a series, I'm afraid I just completely lose interest. For me, that's the point where it ceases to be accidental influence and becomes deliberate plagiarism (or even worse, laziness).

    I really shouldn't start on this. I'll rant. Even more than I already have.
     
  18. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    hehe most of my readers are too young to notice my major influences.

    I think the difference is my bestfriend will spot influences I don't notice :) - he is the inspiration in the snot phobia my MC has lol Most people won't spot them. I am not about to lie I do see ideas and think I can make that work in my story.

    I would love it if people liked ideas in my stories to tweak for their own.
     
  19. darthjim
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    darthjim Member

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    I've no objection to pilfering the odd idea here and there. I'd go so far as to say it's impossible not to, at least if you've ever read, seen or heard anything. Ever.

    My objection lies with folk that use a plagiarized idea/character/setting/magical blanket/whatever as the central theme of their work. That's a tad naughty.
     
  20. write_star
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    write_star Member

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    Sure. There's room for a million more books. Just make yours more different and more outstanding then the rest.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree there is room for plenty more. And Rowling wasn't the first to write a Potter-style novel.

    The one thing that has changed, however, is that if you enter this space you are going to inevitable draw comparisons to Potter. That can go both ways for you. For fans of Potter looking for something in a similar vein, it can be an attraction, but with such an avid fan base it can open the new work up to a lot of negativity, often unfairly for not living up to the expectations of Potter fans.
     
  22. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    I've recently read The Magicians by Lev Grossman (I'm pretty sure that's his name), which is a magical school setting, filled with wizards and magic and such.

    While it's garnished a great deal less attention than Harry Potter, I think it's a much, much better read.

    The books do exist, but the market is saturated with thoughts of Potter, so you'd have to do a bit of digging to find anything else that's similar.
     
  23. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did Romeo and Juliet comsume the romantic genre?

    'There's always room for one more.'
     
  24. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    There are 6 billion + humans on this earth and not a single one is the same. They are different because they have their own personality.

    Likewise...every story on the shelf has been told over and over again. What sells and what sets them apart from one another is that each story has its own personality.

    No story is unique on it's own.
     
  25. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    Although everyone can tell you that the setting doesn't matter, "you can make it your own!", "every idea's been done before" etc., unfortunately I would say that yes, Harry Potter has done a good job of consuming it. You can still write it, make it different and not at all a rip off, but when something uses a concept so definitively, and becomes embedded in the public conscious, it's very difficult to shake.

    It's the same way "The villain is the hero's dad" = Star Wars, "People living among us with various different superpowers" = X Men, "We are living in a computer simulation" = The Matrix. Now, if you do "People from the real world go to a special school to learn magic", it will become associated with Harry Potter.

    Of course, that doesn't stop you writing it - the concepts above have been used many times before and since then. And you could actually be more likely to be successful with a similar story round about now, the same way a huge group of superhero film remakes came out after Spiderman or loads of vampire stuff came out after Twilight. But expect to work a bit harder to make your story more original, or else recieve criticism for being too much like Harry Potter. Your story might not be that similar, but when something is so popular you've got to do a little bit extra to stand out from it.
     

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