1. United
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    United Member

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    If I use this idea from a work, would it be plagiarism?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by United, Nov 8, 2014.

    I really love the idea of the Hunger Games from the Hunger Games series.

    I don't mean the EXACT formatting per se, that is, people randomly chosen and pitted against each other with only one survivor at the end.

    I DO, however, like the fact that the Hunger Games are the stage where humanity/the characters show their true worth and character; their development, by pitting them all against each other. I like that concept.

    My question is: if I choose to use this idea of pitting my characters/protagonists in a situation like the Hunger Games or something similar, would it be plagiarism, and could I get sued?

    Note: they won't be necessarily pitted against each other, if you're wondering. It'll basically be kind of the "arena" aspect of the Hunger Games, with everyone watching (just like in the Hunger Games when people can see the games on TV and stuff, except I obviously won't be copying that part from the Hunger Games).

    If I decide to use this aspect of the Hunger Games for inspiration for my work, would I get into any kind of legal trouble? I just want to stay clear of all that. I mean, I naturally love the premise of the Games and all, but I don't want to come off as a copy. It's unfortunate that I couldn't be the 'Suzanne Collins' before she used the idea in her series (although Battle Royale preceded her and is also similar...).

    Note: I obviously don't have characters named Katniss or Peeta, etc etc. Nor do I call my "Hunger Games" the Hunger Games. I do keep the "selection process" aspect, and the "arena" aspect, and also the "pitting of someone or something against ______" aspect.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't sound like it would be plagiarism or a copyright violation, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be seen as derivative (a rip-off). And there have certainly been books featuring to-the-death arena combat before (as well as real life, of course).

    As with most things, if you do it well enough, you can overcome a lack of originality. So I guess you have to ask yourself how well you can do it.
     
  3. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    The Romans did it first. Look at the Gladiators. History is rife with repeatition. Trying to do something like this so close on the heels of the Hunger Games is a risky undertaking. Readers and booksellers, alike have a very similiar reaching: Another one, really? Maze Runner is another example of this, but there was enough uniqueness in that series to make it a decent read.

    You'll have to come up with something extraordinary to make it hold its own, but the concept is not new by any stretch of the imagination.
     
  4. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    No.
     
  5. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now that the ethical and legal question has been answered, let's look at the question from the perspective of the reader (which is infinitely more interesting and important). What will your book offer to the reader?

    You have shown that you are not approaching the idea with this attitude: "Young adult gladiator-dystopia stories are hot right now; I bet I can make a quick buck by marketing a book to that audience."

    Instead, you are approaching the idea with this attitude: "The Hunger Games introduced me to a concept that interests me. After thinking about it, I want to explore it in the direction I think is best."

    Therefore, the book will not grow into something (into a mold, i.e. the mold of a book marketable to Hunger Games fans); instead, the book will grow from something (from a seed, i.e. the seed of inspiration).

    From that, I conclude you do have something significant to offer to a reader who is familiar with The Hunger Games and to a reader who is not. The very thing that got you interested in writing this book is the thing that will be the source of inspiration of the things you offer to the reader.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
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  6. United
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    Thank you!
     
  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    According Collins, the Hunger Games theme came from the Greek myth, Theseus and the Minotaur. Themes are repeated over and over in novels. Doing it fresh and well is what makes one novel better than another.

    Can you teach an old plot new tricks?
     
  8. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This topic is close to me because I am doing essentially the same thing. I read a fanfic that introduced me to a concept. The concept is that the protagonist is under a specific kind of curse. (Turns out, the curse is a modification of an X-Men mutant power.) I am writing a novel about a protagonist who is under the same type of curse and follows a parallel path of character development. My reason for writing it is because the idea deserves to be materialized as an even better novel (although the fanfic is one of the best fanfics I have ever read) and to be presented to a wider audience.

    So it is always cool to see people aiming to accomplish new things with ideas that have already been presented in previous works. It is my pleasure to encourage that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  9. ChickenFreak
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    I'd say that Hunger Games is just the latest big work to use the arena theme and the high-stakes-struggle-in-front-of-an-audience theme.

    Star Trek: Arena (TV episode) pits characters against each other, in that case to test entire species rather than individuals.

    The Truman Show (Movie) has the main character living his life as a television show. (No struggle here; I'm just going with the audience part.)

    Doctor Who: Bad Wolf (TV episode) has characters pitted against each other in life-or-death game shows, and game show producers competing for an illusory life of luxury.

    The Blood Of Heroes (Movie) has people playing a brutal sport in front of an audience, in the hope of winning a luxurious life.

    Harry Potter/Goblet of Fire.

    Mad Max/Thunderdome.

    And so on and so on.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    It's not just the RollerBall-type entertainment, the Minotaur myth involves a forced sacrifice of young members of society. Battle Royale is a Japanese movie with a similar theme. Some thought the Hunger Games copied it but Collins insists the Minotaur myth was the inspiration for her novels.
     
  11. United
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    Yeah except that Battle Royale's premise explicitly revolves around people from the same society against each other. The only thing the minotaur myth involves is the selecting of the tributes (The Reaping in the Hunger Games), and an arena/place of entrapment (the arena for the Hunger Games, and the labyrinth for the greek myth).

    But really, the 'pitting-people-against-one-another' is culturally relevant to ancient Rome (coliseums and gladiators, etc etc), so Battle Royale could have used that as its inspiration. And Collins could have been inspired by Battle Royale which was subsequently inspired by the gladiators, etc etc.
     
  12. Devlin Blake
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    The Hunger games reminded me of Lord of the flies.
     

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