1. Block
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    Block New Member

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    Originality

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Block, May 23, 2010.

    Why is it so hard to come up with something original? I can't tell you how many times I've started writing and ended up discarding it a couple days later because I realized it's too similar to a book I've read, or a movie I've seen. It's just disheartening. What do you do when you want to just write but nothing comes to you except for things you've already seen somewhere?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    There are alwasy going to be similarities between your ideas and someone elses. The idea itself isn't what needs to be original, rather the way you execute it. Don't throw something away just because it's similar to another book or movie. Just write it so that it's different.
     
  3. squire848
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    squire848 Member

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    Banzai has it exactly. Nothing anyone writes isn't going to be similar to another person's work in one way or another. It simply isn't possible.

    But you can't let this stop you from writing! It's all about how you do it, put your own heart into it.

    As Chateaubriand says;
    "An original matter is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate."
     
  4. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    The key is that even though they sound the same, they aren't. You want to write a young wizard who fights an evil wizard? Set in modern day, where the average man knows nothing of magic? Happens to be set in Britain?

    Well, sounds an awful lot like Harry Potter.

    Don't trash the idea yet. There's a lot that can be different. Do they go to a school for magic? Is the character just like harry? or is he more happy go lucky? more depressed? has a darker side?

    What about plot? the other characters? How the magic works?

    For an easy example, think Digimon Pokemon. Both japanese, both with tons of strange creatures that have amazing powers and change forms. But they're really pretty different. One is all digital, one allows for more than one companion, one has balls to capture them, one takes place in a human filled world, the other has two worlds, one is focused on friendship as a moral, the other has many such as friendship bravery love etc. There's a lot of differences.
     
  5. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    You will find it hard to not write something "similar" to others. However in my opinion, the key to making it your own is the Character development, and story plot line realism.

    Good solid characters make a story line that is "meh" into someting that is "wow" holy cow good. Also I always suggest, when you write, pick something you are good at and stick with it. Also when you write, the devil is really in the details.

    Pepper your story with facts and real elements. Research the subject, use terms that are real, if your story takes place in 1800's London, dont use phrases that are out of place. Like. "Hey whats up!" or "Wow someone knocked him off!"

    If you do not KNOW your subject, LEARN your subject.

    1. Character development.
    2. Storyline filed with accurate facts and things.

    This can really make a story line shine.
     
  6. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    If stories are essentially about people and the world then there is plenty of scope for originality.

    The world is constantly changing; we are standing on a very different part of the world from others, and our perception of it is unique to us. There are billions of us, we live on the same planet, but every person is different.

    If you tell a story 'through' your character's eyes, you will find some originality. Don't worry about small similarities; it is natural to compare your writing to other pieces of work. Remember that you as the author are the original thing, so if you have created a character, their story can't have been told before.

    Persevere and see the other books/films as inspiration or influences. Every major title released in the last few years could be seen as a rip off as something that came before.

    It is the same with music. A song might remind you of one you have heard before (how many times have bands been called 'the new ______') because they have a similar sound, but it is accepted that musicians are influenced by others. It is the same with writers. Unless you go around with your eyes and ears closed, you have to be influenced by something.

    Keep writing and don't discard something good you have written just because it has echoes of another story. The more you write, the more you will develop your own style and the more original your work will become.

    :)
     
  7. Feign
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    Yeah, you'll have to give yourself some credit, you might be able to relate your ideas to already published things, but that could be just you yourself over-analyzing (I know at least I do that).

    That and also you'd have to consider that the idea of good vs. bad, goes back to even beyond the Bible.
     
  8. TeabagSalad
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    TeabagSalad Member

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    I think it is wise to remember the words of Jim Jurmusch:

    "Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."
     
  9. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    Yep by this point in the game, complete originality is a dream. Hollywood writers don't even bother trying any more. Everyone is influenced by something. Nothing wrong with it, just don't let influence turn into plaigarism and its all good.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I picked up a book last week for the first time, by someone writing under the name of Amanda Quick, and I was absolutely astonished to find that not only is the period almost the same as I am writing about, but also that her style is quite similar to mine. Most incredible of all, the heroine's surname is 'Bryce' and mine is 'Brice'.

    The actual story itself is different, but it gave me quite a shock. I know 100% that I did not browse through that book earlier or see any mention of it on the internet. So coincidences can and do happen, and a totally never-been-done-before plot is impossible to find. But the important thing is that the treatment is completely different.
     
  11. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    If you don't run across a subject that has never been used before, in any shape or form, then you're either lucky, or it doesn't exist at all.

    The point is that part of writing is by taking things from everyday life and weaving it into this masterpiece that no one has ever encountered before. Truth be told everything has been used at least once, maybe even twice. Look at the stories about the end of the world, it's widely over used and always seems the same, but somehow they twist the ideas and characters so that's its a totally new book that has never been read before.

    Also, don't EVER throw any material away, you never know if it could be the perfect story. Steven King made the mistake of throwing away "Carrie" (Not sure on the spelling of the book's title at this moment). He figured the book was a bust, and had no meaning, nor would it ever make it anyplace. His wife rescued it from the garbage and sent it in, now it's one of his most best selling books. So never, NEVER EVER, throw any material away. If you don't think it's worth it, or don't want to deal with it put it in a binder and store it away until you do want to deal with it. Or even right it down in a little notebook. Keep it someplace where you can go back to it for future reference.
     
  12. Vacuum Eater
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    Vacuum Eater Senior Member

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    This has happened to me too. I place the blame on that pesky collective unconscious.
     

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