1. Bussani
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    Bussani New Member

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    Originality

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Bussani, Dec 28, 2008.

    Hi, first post here. I'm almost a complete amateur when it comes to writing, but there's a fantasy story I've been working on for a while now and I've got a problem I think only proper writers could help me with.

    Originality can obviously be a problem in fiction. Everything has been done in some way or some form and in a way we're all just reworking ideas that have already been done.

    So what do you do when you find that an idea you've been working on for so long bears a striking resemblance to something that already exists, is already popular and might have been done before you even thought of your idea?

    This seems to happen to me with my ideas all too often, but now I've found that my story has a lot in common with another and I find it really troublesome. Has anyone here ever found themselves in a similar situation? If so, what did you do?

    Thanks for any thoughts.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    How similar is it? If there are plot similarities, I don't see the problem. It's all about the writing- lots of stories are similar, but they differ in the writing. If you can write it in a new, interesting way, then it'll be fine.
     
  3. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    You can either set it aside and forget about it for a while, or you can mull it over longer before continuing to work on it. Give it more time to develop in another direction if you think it seems too similar to another story and you want it to be different.

    I started a story a long time ago and got a good part of the way through it before realizing it was too similar, IMO, to "Watership Down." It wasn't identical but the similarities were too much for me. So I put it away. I haven't worked on it in years, but if I WANTED to work on it, I would mull over why it's so similar to the other story and what could be done to change it. I didn't set out to write the same story in the first place, but I did unconsciously like some aspects of "Watership Down," so such things could easily be fixed if I just think harder over what I want MY story to be.

    Think over what you want YOUR story to be. If it's similar to another story, why is that? Was it intentional or unintentional? If it's intentional (even if you didn't plan it consciously), why are you using ideas that have already been done and what do YOU want to do with them that's unique to your story? If it's unintentional, you should easily start to see all the differences.

    For me it all just boils down to really knowing what you want your story to be about, and mulling it over so it can develop into its own thing. A lot of stories end up the same as other stories because the writers didn't fully think them over before writing.
     
  4. March301
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    March301 New Member

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    I think that if there are similarities it should be okay, just as long as it's not identical. I had a twinge of worry after I wrote my story because afterwards I popped in a Buffy DVD and the three main characters had similar personalities, interests, and motivations to my three main characters. Not to mention there was a similar set up. It was completely coincidental.

    However, my plot is absolutely nothing like Buffy. I think to some extent your brain picks up what it likes even on a subconscious level. But as long as you're making it your own story, it doesn't matter that much.

    And you know, they say there's only three stories that constantly get told over and over in different ways... :D
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's impossible to write a story that has no similarities to other stories you've read or seen. You can even end up writing something that resembles a story you've never even heard of. I was once accused of copying a video game story I'd never heard of. Did you know that there was a time when fairy tale retellings was considered an artform? Be yourself, don't worry, and use what ideas that feel best for you.
     
  6. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I must confess i'm sick with worry over a short story I have written which has been accused of being a copy of a story by H.P. Lovecraft. Now I'm becoming obessed with originality, it's becoming stupid! I'm going crasy over this! I feel like I can't come up with anything origenal anymore and every time I write somthing I rip it to peices plotwise and end up discarding it.

    Anyone got any advice? I feel like I'm losing my mind!
     
  7. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I said above, it's impossible to be as original as you wish you but. However, if you discover that you have a story that is so much like another one that there could be copywright issues, even though you didn't mean to, look at one of the major plot elements you have, and tweek it. For example, I once did my own retelling of the movie Labyrinth, just for the fun of it. Then I wanted to see if I really could write my own book that could be publishable without anyone's special permission, because people were always asking if I was going to publish it.

    That story involves a girl who no longer has her birth mother in her life, for whatever reason, and now a stepmother and baby half-brother. She hates the baby and wishes it away. When she realized that it was a mistake, she has to solve a Labyrinth and get to the Goblin Castle to get the baby back. I knew I would have to overhaul the whole story and the character backgrounds if I was going to keep the baby and the labyrinth without having it look like the movie. Since I didn't want to abandon all my work, I kept the idea of the mother being gone, a wish, and the journey to the castle. With no baby to steal, the wish had to be about something else. That introduced possibilities that had nothing to do with the movie. In the end, I decided that my character never accepted her mother's death and wished to have her mother back, and the way she could have her wish granted was by going to the castle.
     
  8. Bussani
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    Bussani New Member

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    It's more like a lot of little similarities that add up, I suppose. Similar setting, themes, ideology, philosophy. It feels like everything I've been working on for so long (years, in fact) has already been said by someone I've never even heard of. On top of that, one important element in both stories, which I already thought was similar (and was what made me look into it further) are even described in the same way!

    If I were to write it, I'm sure they would be quite different. But I worry that the similarities are enough that someone would say, "Oh hey, this is just like xxxxxxxxxx." I suppose it's wishful thinking to hope that your story never gets compared to something else like that though.

    Thanks for the advice everyone. I guess I've got more thinking to do.

    Edit: Come to think of it, it's probably not the plot itself that's similar, so maybe this wasn't the right forum for this.
     
  9. Chad Sanderson
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    Chad Sanderson Member

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    "Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring a two-pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever noticing it." - C. S. Lewis

    Some advice from a professional.
     
  10. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think you're in much danger. Unless you've copied passages from this other work whole, you've not really done anything wrong. Like others have said, there are so many works already out there that you could probably find all your elements in other works, and maybe even a whole that's fairly similar. If you go looking for these similar stories, you will inevitably find something very close, and your worry over this closeness will make it seem even worse. The best thing to do is to ignore other people's work in terms of possible "copying". You will always be influenced; it's unavoidable. Just write the story. Thinking too much about honest mistakes(similarities) just causes trouble.
     
  11. S. LaMontagne
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    S. LaMontagne New Member

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    what matters nowadays is not What you say, but How you say it...


    that's my two cents at least:p
     

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