1. TamaraMop
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    TamaraMop New Member

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    Similar Story Idea

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by TamaraMop, Mar 1, 2011.

    This is my first post on this forum, so a big to everyone from me.

    I found this forum after searching for a writing community to get involved in. I've written a couple of pieces, but I'm not published. Until now, I've written stuff which I felt was original (at the time). As I say, I'm not published and I've sent two different screenplays out to various places, without success.

    Over the past few years, I've gestated on an idea that I thought might be interesting to explore. The issue I have, is that when I come up with ideas that feel are original, I end up realising sometime later that there is something similar already out there.

    For example. I came up with the premise similar to Next (Nicolas Cage) a few years ago, only to end up throwing it away because, well, it had been done. Though I would've written something different and the only similarity was the ability to see a few minutes into the future.

    So, this new idea I have I already know is similar to something already out there. How can i describe it? Well, say for discussion's sake, I've come up with an idea for a story where a robot becomes more human over time. Yes, I'm aware that this has been done a few times in television (Star Trek) and film (Bicentennial Man). Again, for illustration, in my 'version', yes the robot would become more human-like, perhaps for different reasons, but the conclusion of this would be entirely different to those I've mentioned.

    This issue has always bugged me about writing. At what point, baring in mind my discussion above, would an idea be deemed to similar? Would it be breach of copyright to have a robot who becomes more human, in a story of my own, but with differing intentions/conclusions? If I were to be able to mould the middle portion of the story, say have differing ways and means of moving toward the robot's journey.

    As I say, this has bugged me for a long time and I'd like to pull that thorn out now. I hope someone can generate a discussion.

    Thanks for reading, and se you around the forum.

    Best,
    TamaraMop.
     
  2. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    Welcome, Mop.
    I don't think there is much novel around - themes at its heart are very similar. Having said this, it's the characters and setting and the way you tie things together that makes it an original piece. As long as you don't shamelessly copy something "done" - in the sense that everyone can see it is the same story - I wouldn't bother too much.
     
  3. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of the parts of my story have been done before I am sure someone has written about a rebellious teenage prince who becomes a king, about a living breathing universe where anyone can learn how to turn into a bird and has immortal people. I actually know where most of my story comes from. - I know He-Man, Dr Who and Torchwood have elements that have creeped into my stories.

    However the characters are mine and the combination of the elements are what makes the story mine.
     
  4. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    Using a similar idea -- even very similar -- will not breach copyright. Copyright only covers the expression of an idea, not the idea itself.

    The manner in which you handle your idea is what will separate it from others. For instance; Crazy captain chases large aquatic creature to his doom. Is that Moby Dick, or Jaws?
     
  5. TamaraMop
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    TamaraMop New Member

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    I think I'm starting to see the light. An idea isn't copyrightable as such. It's the implementation of an idea, i.e. the way it's told that makes it unique to a writer.
     
  6. sereda008
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    sereda008 Senior Member

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    I have the same experience :).

    I had dozens of ideas over the past few years, that seemed unique to me then (Such as nano-bots feeding of everything and multiplying and many more such cases) but now are common knowledge. As the admin would have said, almost everything had been done before (And will be done again, for that matter). The human robot idea to me seems to be more of a cliche than anything unique, but if you write it well then the reader might move on past the first page. Just write it well and you should succeed as long as the theme is not overused.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!... which is why there are so many stories/novels/movies with similar plots and characters...

    what 'places' did you send your screenplays to?... agents, or who/what?....

    i mentor many aspiring screenwriters, so if you want any help/advice along the way, just drop me a line...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  8. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everything has been done before. Also Next sounds like they took the idea of seeing the future and limited its capability. Instead of seeing into the distant future he can only see into the very near future. Being able to see the future in both fiction and in real life have gone back centuries.

    There is actually a site called TVTropes that you can look at your favorite TV show or movie or book to see what tropes they use and you can go to the page for that trope and see how many other books/movies/shows use similar ideas. Maybe not necessarily similar to plots but it shows just how its not so much the idea how original an idea is but how its used that matters. Well thats one way to look at that site.

    Though be warned. It's not uncommon to go on that site and lose time. ;)
     
  9. coolie96
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    coolie96 Member

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    I have had the same feeling so many times, but often it's just a small part of the story that makes me think I'm breaching copyright. What I've realized is to go along with it and try anyway, even if it is for my own personal entertainment, because it could turn into something even better than you think. Whatever you do, don't give up on an idea because one feature reminds you of another story you've read, because there are numerous stories out there with similar ideas in some sense, so yours could never hurt.
     
  10. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    There is no such thing as original story idea, believe me somewhere, someone has done it already. I don't think having a similar storyline is breaching copyright, unless you have a similar char with a similar name doing the same thing in a similar scene. Even that may not be considered as breaching copyright because I have seen so many Hindi movies copying right down to the scene details from Hollywood movies. I mean imagine a world where you have one bad romantic comedy and nobody making any other romantic comedies for fear of copyright issues. I think the movie industry is all the more richer (literally and not literally) because we get to see so many takes/versions of a storyline from different filmmakers.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The other commenters in this thread are right. There really aren't any original ideas, or if there are, they're usually just mixtures of unoriginal ideas. That means that every one of us on this forum, and just about every writer in history, from Homer and Shakespeare on down, has had the same experience the OP is having.

    The difference, and the artistic value of each writer, is in the telling of the story. Just about every story you can imagine has been done several (or very many) ways by different writers. Some tragic romances are towering works of genius (Romeo and Juliet) and many are trash. Somebody up above mentioned Jaws and Moby Dick. Great example, by the way! There's even a subgenre of war stories about a small team sent to blow up a bridge behind enemy lines - Hemingway turned this into a masterpiece (For Whom The Bell Tolls), and Alistair MacLean turned it into a run-of-the-mill action novel (Force 10 From Navarone).

    So don't worry if your idea isn't original. Involve original characters, penetrating insight, brilliantly rendered scenes, and a powerful theme, and your stock idea will be a fine work of literature.
     
  12. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Shakespeare's case, it was even worse, since he actually took entire plays from other writers and reworked them for his own productions. Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear - none of them are original works.

    And yet, today we call Shakespeare "a genius" instead of "a plagiarist", because he did such a good job rewriting them.
     

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