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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    How do you rip off of a story without totally ripping it off?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Feb 1, 2011.

    Playing the Mass Effect series has inspired me to write sci-fi. The name of the series (and ship) is The Santarnica 9 and the protagonist is named Commander Helen Chert of the United States Space Force. (Every country has their own space force and also set in the year 2943 AD.)

    I've worked out my story so it didn't rip off of the videogame series, but there's one thing I'm annoyed at.

    It's Joker, the helmsman of the Normandy in the games. I wished that there was an option to have him as a love interest in the series, and suddenly thought "Hey! Why don't I just do that in my own story? She romances a man like Joker!"

    Yeah...except making my own sarcastic helmsman who has leg problems would be ripping off of the videogame.

    So, how should I work this out? Tips?
     
  2. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    Remove the leg problems and give him another position than helmsman?
     
  3. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would brainstorm and come up with a character who has elements of the Joker,
    but is different in some way.

    He can be sarcastic, sure, but come up with another side to him, and he could have a different 'problem' as well.

    Others may disagree, but I wouldn't use the character from the game straight out.
     
  4. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True.

    I considered giving the guy the positon of navigator, but isn't that the same as being a helmsman? I suppose not.

    <--- Has no idea about marine terms and such.

    As for personality, the guy could probably be sarcastic, but perhaps not as upbeat as Joker? Maybe Helen's the upbeat one and this guy's the serious "let's get to work" person. Or maybe he's misanthropic? Extremely introverted? The choices are unlimited!
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make him as upbeat and have him as the ships cook. :)
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Heh, funnily enough the guy's French-American named Louis Voltaire. XD He sings beautifully in French, etc. He says things like "I will teach your American palate to enjoy French food, commander!"

    I don't HAVE to give him a disability. I mean, I already have a disabled character, an alien boy named Kenthew who's lived with Helen and her family his whole life (though thanks to his race's well-known hightened senses, the boy can fight if he has to). Having him and Louis be disabled would be stretching it, wouldn't it?
     
  7. Jonias
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    Jonias Member

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    Heh. A story idea I have was inspired sorta like that: a video game story I thought had a great premise but played out terribly and dropped the ball several times. I say go for it, but as VM80 says, just take the parts of Joker that are essential for the sort of story you want to tell. Do a riff on it; change the setting, plot, and all the other characters.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Just take the character. If you want him, he's yours. And anyway, once he's been written in your voice, you'll probably find changes start to manifest themselves anyway. Mass Effect doesn't have a monopoly on sarcastic, leg-damaged people.
     
  9. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Their sarcastic helmsman with a dodgy leg is very much a nod towards the peg-legged pirate who has been a staple for three hundred years. Nothing to worry about.

    Will your chap have a problem with his legs or, rather, will his problem be a want of a leg?
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, I imagine he has a leg (or both of them) that causes him pain, so he rides a hoverchair (or something of that type) for comfort. He can still walk, but with great difficulty. (He needs crutches and leg braces to move around without the chair.)
     
  11. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    A Helmsman is the guy who steers the ship while the Navigator is the one incharge of well navigating and such... You should probably do some research on the terms and such.
     
  12. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. Change something about the characters identity that will force you to rework the character a lot. For example, you could change the characters age. Changing a character from a 20-something to a 50-something would be a change of world view, of perspective, of mannerism, of what he facing in life, etc.
    -Or change his sex. Even in quite gender neutral fiction it will make a differences in about how you think about the character, because -we- as writers and readers don't come from a gender neutral society.
    -Or change his occupation. If helmsmen was important to the original concept, make him something else. The ship telepath, or something else awesome.

    Once you settled to change one big thing, small side effects changes will pop up as mushrooms and make the character your own.
     
  13. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    I know I might be slightly off point here, but I thought of something today, regarding ripoffs etc. It's funny how if you do a project different enough, it's gonna change the whole thing.

    Take the following example: A movie about a guy who finds himself in a loop where one day repeats itself over and over, vs. a TV series about a guy who... finds himself in a loop where one day repeats itself over and over.

    In the movie, Groundhog Day, the repeat happens to a weathercaster when he is stuck in a town he doesn't like, with a girl he has a crush on. In the TV show, Daybreak, it happens to a cop who has been arrested for a murder he didn't commit.

    Change one thing, and you'll get a different genre.
     
  14. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Now that I think about it, look at all the zombies movies. Night of The Living Dead took place in a remote rural area, with the characters barricading themselves in an old house in the middle of nowhere, but they knew it has happened in many other areas, in cities, etc. And I'm sure many people have said "wouldn't it be awesome to have a movie with the same stuff but in the city?" So you had Night of The Living Dead II. And then Dawn of The Dead, and other types of zombie movies.

    I actually thought about the zombie thing right now, because I suddenly thought about how Daybreak happens to a city cop, so you get the same premise of Groundhog Day, but with the protagonist not only being a man on a mission, but a man on a mission that takes place in the big city!
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    How about not ripping off the story? :)

    Seriously though, if a pre-existing character has traits you like, inject those traits into a character that's your creation.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    @ Birmingham= So, what you're saying is that the guy who's a quasi-rip off of Joker from Mass Effect will soon transform into his own character that isn't like Joker?
     
  17. Melzaar the Almighty
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    As long as you write him well, and don't stick to the script of the games, then yeah. :) He'll be forced to adapt, and that alone will make him different enough that if you're pretending it's not a fan fic, people might not assume it is right off the bat. The more details you change (job position, etc) the more you'll find they change.
     
  18. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Look, Link, you can take bits and pieces from a character, but if your entire story is based on another to the point where you feel like you're ripping it off, it's time to think of some new ideas. It's like plagiarism: you can change a couple of words here and there, but the rest is the same it isn't yours.

    Thinking of a character like Joker is fine, but from what you've told us it sounds a little too much like Mass Effect. Even if no one else notices, wouldn't you rather write about your own ideas? You can still inject elements of Mass Effect here and there, but I personally have no fun writing if it's too much like something else.

    Do whatever you want, it's your show.

    Also might I suggest that you cut the "the" out of the name of the ship? A proper name for a ship (or spaceship) would be Santarnica 9, not The Santarnica 9. People would still call it "the Santarnica" or something, but the actual title would not have an article, especially when written on the side of the ship.
     
  19. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    -Francis Ford Coppola

    So yeah, I stand by my original statement. Steal Joker if he's who you want. He won't stay Joker for long anyway, once you put him in your world and write him in your voice.
     
  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Good points. I should sit down and revise my story so it's uniquely mine instead of a quasi-rip off of Mass Effect. Although I think the things like the United States Space Force did not come from the game, I am sure of that. :p

    You're right. Absolutely right. I don't want to feel like I'm just merely writing a Mass Effect fan-fic. It's great that I was inspired by it, but now I must take that inspiration and form a completely new and original sci-fi story out of it.

    Also, thanks for clarifying about the ship's name.
     
  21. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Sure Link, I'm glad you feel that way. As for the ship name, you might also want to add a ship prefix. Kind of like USS or SMS or FS (isn't the ship in Mass Effect called the SSV Normandy? SSV is the prefix). Be creative! Look at the way nations name their ships (prefixes i mean).
     
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hmmm...

    Well, seeing as the ship was made in America, it'd be USS Santarnica 9 just like a ship from the UK wold be...<insert UK suffix> <insert name> and so on and so forth. I should make a list of suffixes each nation uses.

    I should probably also research naval ranks and stuff. =) Thanks.
     

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