1. Plushii
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    Plushii Member

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    Having an original plot

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Plushii, Apr 28, 2008.

    I'm just wondering, how many of you stress on having an original plot? Right now I'm in the mood to write, but instead I'm making myself sick to my stomach with worry that whatever thing I may write will just be a blatant rip-off of something else already written that I have never heard about before. Thing is, I know that nearly everything that could possibly make sense has been done, yet I keep on trying to find something that hasn't.

    So I guess my question is, how do you deal with knowing that your work is not 100% original? Right now, I just don't know how to deal with it...I'm fine with my art work not being 100% original, because it has my own style, yet with my writing, I can't get passed this mental blockage, even if I tell myself that my writing has my own flair to it.

    Sorry if something like this has been discussed before. I ran a search and couldn't find a question *quite* like this.
     
  2. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I read some Shakespeare. The guy didn't have an original idea in his whole life, and look at what he did! Every plot has its own spin on an ancient story. Just pick up a copy of Romeo and Juliet and remember you're not alone!
     
  3. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    What idea is original, for you to have an idea for a novel that is purely yours is a very rare thing. These days just about everythings been done. However instead of thinking has it been done before try asking yourself how can I make what I've done diffrent from the others?
     
  4. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Not many original ideas anymore. We get maybe one or two every four or five years but they are usually jsut a bunch of unoriginal ideas strung together.

    I don't worry about it. If its an exciting story, and is reasonably well written, I don't care (As long as its not one of those stories that's been beaten to death DRAGONS! cough cough)
     
  5. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    LOL I think they aren't the only mythical creature that's been beaten to death with authors love
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there are only 3 'original plots' and they were painted on their authors' cave walls long ago!... everything written since, is just 'creative plagiarism'... with the emphasis on the first word... the trick is to be as creative as possible, with your 'sure to have been done before' plot and characters... stressing about it is a waste of energy...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    To add to what Vayda and Mammamaia said,

    We as writers can't help but to be influenced by what we have read, events and eposiodes in our life we have experienced (or watched others live through), even television and movies in some cases.

    How many have suffered heartbreak? While many of the actions and results may be similar, there are some differences. How many have lost a spouse to cancer or a sudden car accident? Is each such loss exactly the same? Although there may be some common threads, the answer is no.

    The same with one's writing. Unless you set out to consciously follow a particular story line and characters, your own combination of plot events--including intertwining plots, characters and their individual reactions. There are even writers who have intentionally stuck to another author's content/theme. Take J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings series. Have you ever read Dennis McKiernan--The Iron Tower Trilogy and the Silver Call Dualogy? Pretty darn close, and McKiernan never tried to hide his admiration to and influence of Tolkien in his effort. He took a big risk, I suspect, but he was successful, because while his story had similarities...which characters and the plot and twists were different enough to keep readers interested. At least that's how I figure it.

    Terry
     
  8. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    gyeh, I know what you mean, I'm writing about hitmen at the moment and came up with the idea of someone being forced into a trunk with a dead body as part of a general hitman related gag. I remember wondering "Why has nobody done this before?" and then, roughly a year later, 'Hitman' came out and hey they used the same joke...I was pretty disappointed.
     
  9. Fluxhavok
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    Fluxhavok Active Member

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    i understand where you're coming from with the plagurism paranoia. i wrote a story about complex androids who keep developing emotions despite the efforts of their programmers. so the programmers create them with a 6 year life span as a counter. Later, a couple of the androids develop emotions and keep them secret and decide to rise up... then i saw "bladerunner." which is basically the same thing. i'd been working on the story in my head for like 5 years. i mean the characters and the basic plot and storytelling are totally different but it still chaps my buns ya know...
     
  10. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Try to take an existing idea and put a new spin on it, or combine two unrelated ideas. As long as your characters aren't pallette swaps of other characters, you should be fine.
     
  11. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plushii, I have the same fears with a lot of the stuff I write, fearing that because it is about magic, it is a rip off of Harry Potter, for example. the ting is though, that someone told me ages ago when I posted a similiar thread to this a long time ago, is that with the amount of work floating around, I think it is impossible to have a completely origional idea anymore. Just try and make the plot origional and your own, making it individual.

    Heather
     
  12. wildflower
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    wildflower Member

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    I personally think original ideas are difficult for all of today's writers - the challenge now is to write in a way that is compelling for the reader. I mean check out some of the best sellers in the last few years:

    Harry Potter: caught the imagination of millions and there is only one remotely original idea in it - quidditch (even that seems to ring a bell with me...). The witches, wolfsbane, the three headed dog, werewolves - everything can be traced back to mythology and folklore

    Stardust: a place where no one goes and 'secret people' live, siblings fighting over who gets to rule the kingdom, witches who need a pure heart to be forever youthful, the underdog hero, pirates, unicorns. need i go on?

    even (god forgive me) the period drama: unrequited love, misunderstandings, heated debates between the two protagonists and a heroine who usually stands out from convention - P&P, S&S, North & South, Jane Eyre

    Yeah, I do worry that someone will say "How unoriginal, that's the plot to such and such" even though I'm sure its my own idea. At the end of the day, all you can do is write it - i mean North and South was criticized for ripping off P&P but they are both different in their own ways and completley compelling
     
  13. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    I think ultimately the question isn't is this plot original, but rather how can I make it uniquely mine. In thee lies genius.
     
  14. kjetterman
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    I read something that I believe someone here posted (or perhaps it was on another writing forum). They said that no idea could be 100% original as people need to be able to connect with it on some level.

    To me, it is more important not to have a transparent plot than a 100% original story. What will make your story original is the spin you put on the situation.

    First concentrate on writing (because you love it). Then, once you have something down, decide how to make it original.
     
  15. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    I have passed this problem already, and realized something. Plot and Originality are not synonyms. What I mean is, you may combine certain ideas found in other works, but use your characters, geography, names, religion, etc.

    But please do avoid cliches such as "the magical item that must be undone to save the world" and the "evil wizard (or necromancer) with its undead army on a dark tower.
     
  16. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    You don't have to necessarily avoid cliches to make an original story. The plot of "young hero has to destroy evil lord before the world is destroyed" told by the viewpoint of the hero's horse, that's something I haven't read yet.

    I think originality comes from how much of 'you' you put into the story. Even if it's a re-write of Romeo and Juliet, you can write your own way with your own vision and make it original.
     
  17. laura624
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    laura624 New Member

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    I express this fear to my (amazing) creative writing professor a lot, and he always says the same thing. "Everything's been written, but it hasn't been written by you." And it never fails to make me feel better about my writing (seriously, this guy is a genius). And that's how I approach everything. Sure, nothing's original, but what the hell. It doesn't have to be original to be good. It's the same way I feel about music. If you're going to do something that's been done to death, you better be doing it better than everyone else. This thought makes me struggle to be better in my writing.
     
  18. Tyunglebo
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    Tyunglebo Member

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    While I have never totally bought into the whole "there are only X number of originals ideas in existence", I do believe that the word "original" can be overly focused. In the broadest sense, almost every story is somebody wanting something...but when you think that broadly, isn't every LIFE about the person WANTING something, (or needing it). And yet, nobody dares call each person a carbon copy of everybody else because they, like others need/want things.

    So, if you are broad, I guess no ideas are original. But think of those things as a skeleton that all writings need, and add to the skeleton whatever you want. (Just as I am sure you are quite different from me, but we both have skulls, and once we have shuffled off the mortal coil, they will like quite a bit the same.)
     
  19. starrynight89
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    starrynight89 Senior Member

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    Ahh, we seem to be on the same page. I truly want to write and I have these insights but as I am writing, my mind is constantly making sure I'm not copying something that's already been done. It all depends on your definition of 'original'. The idea of wizards is certainly not original but Rowling has made it her own. I think it all comes down to transforming a theme or well-known idea into your own idea. It's about adding a touch of you or putting a spin on a universal theme....yeah. Personally, I'm all about the characters, I love reading books where I envy the main character and want to step into his/her shoes. To me, the plot is secondary but that's not to say it isn't important.
     
  20. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Well, no plot is really original anymore. There are only a limited number of plots in all story-telling. Names, faces, and places may change but the structure ends up being no different.
     
  21. Sayuri
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    I haven't read it in a while, but I think that may be the plot of A Horse and His Boy, one of the books in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.

    Sorry. I love Narnia.

    But I think that whole "there's no original plots/stories anymore" idea is bull****, nonetheless. If that were true, I would be a very sad reader. The only way that this *is* true is if you are very, very basic with it. Like, there are four extremely general types of characters:

    (1) The static character. Does not change. Like James Bond.
    (2) The dynamic character whose motivations change. Like Jane Eyre.
    (3) The dynamic character whose personality changes as a result of the pursuance of his motivation. Like Beatrice Lacey in Wideacre.
    (4) The dynamic character whose motivations AND personality change. (Rare.)

    But apart from that? There are heroes, anti-heroes, magnificent bastards, anti-villains... Hell, I've seen ONE SINGLE anti-villain in my day. ONE! And I read a lot. So there are plenty of stories left. Plenty of stories with heroic, sexy anti-villains... sexay... Okay, I'm getting off track... Yeah. So. Plenty of stories.

    I've read plenty of new stories in my day. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. The Constant Princess. Specimen Days. The Painted Veil. There are, literally, TONS. The only way they are all the same is if you reduce them to their very most basic elements: "revenge story," "love story," etc.
     
  22. Klee
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    Klee Contributing Member

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    I think that's what they mean, or at least that's the way I understand it. Romeo and Juliet has been written a thousand times at different times by different people in different circumstances, we have 'West Side Story' example. You're right, they're different stories, but they're basically the same tale: love made impossible.
     
  23. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Well, I wasn't just pulling that out of nowhere you know. It is actually an almost unanimously accepted fact in academic circles. The only argument is how many there really are. I'm an advocate of there only being seven basic plots.

    I think they go something like this:
    *Overcoming the Monster
    *Rags to Riches
    *The Quest
    *Voyage and Return
    *Comedy
    *Tragedy
    *Rebirth

    There are many who advocate there being only one plot, or two. Some even say there are 64, but it is agreed that there aren't an unlimited number. You should do some research.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the 3 basics are:

    man vs man [includes any other sentient beings]
    man vs god [includes nature, naturally]
    man vs self

    and the first/only original stories were painted on their author's cave walls long ago... ;-)

    everything written since, is creative plagiarism... the key word is 'creative'... you can take any tired old plot premise and make it fresh and new with your own twists and turns, if you've talent and skill enough to get away with it...
     
  25. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Agreed
     

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