1. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    Something Old, Something New, Something Original, How Do You Do (it)?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by astrostu, Mar 27, 2012.

    It's been said that it's not possible to write a completely original story anymore, that they've all been told and it's just a matter of reworking things with a new twist. I'm having an issue with adding that original twist, and I'm trying to decide how much I should be worrying about being original versus just writing what I want to write.

    I'm taking a break from my fantasy/magic story and want to try at sci-fi. Problem is, the tech/setting/ideas are heavily influenced by "Earth: Final Conflict" (EFC) and "Stargate" series. For example, the basic background is that two very high-tech civilizations were waring way back when, one purposely build a doomsday weapon that destroyed all biological matter across the galaxy, but then seeded worlds with something that given a wide range of evolutionary pressures would give us our standard humanoid people. Right there we've got Stargate's Dakara Superweapon or Star Trek's "The Chase" episode. The purpose of starting out that way is to give Earth a present-day setting while giving the secret government labs high tech that they're just sorta stumbling their way through.

    When the story starts out, it's with Earth's first interstellar spaceship, malfunction happens with the engine, and they emerge in the middle of a shootout between two other races. Barely escaping back to Earth, they realize WTF they got into and change tactics to more nearby survey missions to try to gather materials and more tech so they can survive. Very Stargate like. I also want to explore bio-energetic lifeforms, similar to EFC.

    I realize one issue right away is that I need a stronger motivation to get a plot going for a novel as opposed to a TV series-like thing, but in these rough thoughts, perhaps you can see my point? Should I worry about effectively copying what's been done to make my own thing, or should I just go and write it, and not worry about seeming to borrow from what other authors have done?
     
  2. GillySoose
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    GillySoose Member

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    Well, the way I see it is that if the idea seems like it was blatantly ripped from somewhere you might catch flak from readers for copying the concept. But! This doesn't mean it makes the whole story automatically bad. If you write it well and give it your own interesting twists and turns then people could still enjoy it. Even people who accuse you of ripping off an idea might still enjoy it because they enjoyed the original. I recall reading somewhere that good stories are meant to be reread, therefore don't worry too much about reusing old concepts because a lot of people are looking for exactly that: an old concept rehashed.
     
  3. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    Of course you can write an original story. It's basic plot that's rarely original.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
     
  5. Rybe
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    Rybe Member

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    I feel it's generally the characters that make stories fresh and new. Romeo and Juliette has been done umpteenth bazillion times and new re-immaginings with different characters, even if they're blatantly the same story, tend to still be fresh. The idea of ancient aliens with a doomsday device and earth's first hardcore spaceship not going as planned are not original concepts in themselves. So unless your alien's eyes glow when they're angry, and your people are with the air force instead of NASA and the main character is a wise cracking military guy, and he follows the prime directive, or any number of other awkward blatantly stolen details, I think you'll be good to go. People love originality in details. Just look at Harry Potter.

    Modeling it after a tv show is a legitimate concern, though. They take a much different formula than novels. Novels take more of a movie arc...in that they arc. But it's your world! So there are plenty of things to delve into. Did the Earth know about alien's before the epic shoot out? Do they know these aliens will come after them, instead of just having a special hatred for each other? Does an alien scout ship crash with a book titled "How to Serve Man?" But I'm sure you'll figure all of that out in the fleshing.
     
  6. There_She_Goes
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    There_She_Goes Member

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    Basically those "ordinary plots" follow the patterns of ancient storytelling that even today is widely admired and eagerly read. And yes, this applies even to fantasy/scifi -stories because the structure is always somewhat typical to human nature... :) So don't worry, I'm sure it's gonna be great - as long as you're happy with it and think it's cool to work on. Remember that if you feel strongly about something, other people are most likely to get some sort of a reaction, too. Some classics never die!
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You really shouldn't worry about borrowing aspects of story from other stories, everyone does that in one way or another, just go with it and do the best you can telling that story. Good luck! :)
     
  8. astrostu
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    astrostu Member

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    Thanks all. I think the take-home message is, "just write." :)
     
  9. Herachrist
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    Herachrist New Member

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    There's some solid advice in this thread. Don't drive yourself crazy by second-guessing the originality of your plot. The characters, details, pacing, dialogue ... those are the things that count.

    And personally, as a long-time science fiction fan, I started to think about the genre in much different terms once I started getting deep into the written genre. I loved Star Trek TNG and DS9 as a kid, I watched a bit of Stargate, and of course I think the reboot of BSG was amazing. But for a few years I found myself on this absurd space opera kick, devouring all this "big idea" SF, and I really love the way great SF books defy genre conventions.

    Just as important...you realize where those ideas came from. Halo was influenced by the Orbitals from The Culture series by Iain M. Banks, which in turn was influenced by Ringworld by Larry Niven. Mass Effect owes a serious debt to Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds, etc.

    And once you make those connections, you realize it's very possible to write a compelling story by borrowing elements from earlier science fiction. Good luck.
     

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