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  1. Rueso
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    Rueso Member

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    The Problem Of Derivative Plot Ideas

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rueso, Jan 13, 2007.

    I never seem to get stuck when trying to develop new plot ideas. Unfortunately, I keep discovering that everything I come up with has already been published and/or filmed. Even though what I come up with isn't exactly the same as the other works I find, it often seems so derivative that I can see lawsuits or rejection letters before I even write one word.

    This is really starting to tick me off.

    The other day inspiration had hit me, so I just started writing. The end result was an entire chapter in one sitting.

    I opened the scene with an archaeologist overseeing a late night excavation of the ancient ruins of Paris (distant future setting). This archaeologist was also an amateur astronomer of sorts, and on this particular night a rare astronomical event was going to occur: A total eclipse of a full moon during the Leonoid Meteor shower (I even researched the NASA database for an exact date when this will actually happen in real life). As the eclipse begins, he stops his crew to appreciate the amazing site of a blood red moon under a brilliant shower of "shooting stars".

    However, what starts off as a beautiful, natural phenomena suddenly become dangerous, as small, baseball-sized meteorites start hitting the landscape. But the big threat isn't so much being hit by a meteor. The big threat is to the futuristic city that is built under a huge oxygen dome. The back-story here is that the planet went through a sixth major mass extinction that was drastically accelerated by mankind's abuse of planetary resources and the environment, resulting in a current atmosphere with only a 12% level of oxygen in it. Enough to breath, but not to stay healthy and alive for very long.

    The dome is destroyed, of course. Certain groups take advantage of the chaos and move to take control over the oxygen supply in order to seize power. The city breaks off into two separate factions and a civil war over oxygen begins.

    Then I find a book called "Oxygen Wars", set in the distant future. I haven't read the book yet, but I'm naturally assuming here that it's a futuristic war over oxygen.

    GRRRRAHHHH!!!

    I'm about ready to just give up.
     
  2. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Hey, Spaceballs is about a war over oxygen too, but you wouldn't be ripping that off if you wrote this story.

    Besides, if the following link is the story you referred to, I doubt you'll have a problem: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0975323342/?tag=postedlinks04-20
     
  3. Magnum Opus
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    Magnum Opus New Member

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    I agree with Ivan's thought, just because it has to do with Oxygen wars doesn't mean it's the same.

    I could probably find a hundred books about espionage, or Wall street, or rainbows, but it doesn't mean they copied them.

    One thing you will want to do though is investigate the things you think would be a problem, and judge for yourself.

    But again, chances are they aren't the carbon copies and as long as your ideas don't directly take from theirs, you should be fine.
     
  4. Wader Go
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    Wader Go Member

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    Hell, my novel is about aliens invading the solar system. Not exactly an original concept, but it's what you do with the idea that keeps it from being derivative.
     
  5. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    Your story idea in bulletform:

    • Archaeologist overseeing a late night excavation of the ancient ruins of Paris.
    • Archaeologist is also an amateur astronomer.
    • A total eclipse of a full moon during the Leonoid Meteor shower occurs sending small, baseball-sized meteorites to hit the landscape cracking and destroying the city-sized oxygen dome.
    • Certain groups take advantage of the chaos and move to take control over the oxygen supply in order to seize power.
    • The city breaks off into two separate factions and a civil war over oxygen begins.

    So, have you spotted something that doesn't quite add up yet?
    You need to create a logical link between this war and the archaeologist as well as the purpose of his discovery of the ancient ruins of Paris (is there something about these ancient ruins that could help him fight the war?)

    What you have here is seriously too undeveloped yet for you to even assume that it is unoriginal because all they are are events, you don't yet have much of a storyline or much of a plot.
    Those things are what makes originality (along with character).

    So get cracking by brainstorming ideas.
     
  6. Rueso
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    Rueso Member

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    I do have some of that figured out, specifically in how the archeological site ties into it all, but sure, I still have a lot of plot development ahead of me. You're right.

    I guess I just started to panic a little because I had initially considered titling my work "The Oxygen Wars" before I found the Amazon link. I feel a little better about the whole thing now. Thanks!
     
  7. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    You're not the only one, this happens to all sooner or later (thankfully, it's usually sooner).

    As long as you're telling a story through the human angle instead of leaving it to just mere plot points then you should do alright.
     
  8. powertodream
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    powertodream Member

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    It's my experience that nearly every general plot, if you're forced to sum it up in a couple of sentences, tends to sound a bit cliched and overdone. It's the unique twists that one adds to a cliched plot that makes it something new and special. It can be a particular character, it can be something about the plot.

    I also agree with MaxVantage above in saying that you have some logical not-yet-links yet, but if you understand where they are and that you've already figured them out, all the more power to you. :D
     

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