1. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    They stole my opening!!!

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Fitzroy Zeph, Jan 4, 2014.

    I have had a story on the back burner for too long. I wrote the opening chapter about 5 years ago and decided it was far overdue for completion. The story opens with a teen in the midst of West Coast Canada storm aboard his uncle's tugboat, who he is not supposed to be skippering but is. The tugboat hits and sustains a near catastrophic hole from a floating container that went overboard from a freighter in the same storm. Sound familiar yet? This is nearly the exact opening scene in All Is Lost with Robert Redford. This sort of thing is feared by all bluewater sailors and is not necessarily new. I read about it on a sailing forum somewhere but it's not exactly common occurence either. Should I be thinking up another opening?
     
  2. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you really like your opening that much, flesh it out a bit more. Add in more details. Revise it. Afterwards, if you feel it is too close to Redford's scene, then scrap it.

    A lot of novels have similar scenes. What separates them, is the author's style.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true, re style... and all above is good advice...
     
  4. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I would not exactly say they stole your idea. In the world we live in there is at least one other person that is thinking the same idea as you. To be honest with you, I would stick to your opening. Even though it is not common, your concept of the story may be different from the one that was released. Also no two ideas are the same. I have seen films and read books where I can expect what happens next because the writer is using a pattern.
     
  5. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're right, I tend to be a little melodramatic. Still though, the openings are too similar for me to use it now. It would just look like I lifted the idea.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, that's irritating, for sure. I haven't seen the film, but I get why you're concerned about this.

    However, your character is a teenager, while Redford's character is ...not. I suspect the focus of the two stories would be a lot different, somehow. Age versus The Sea, and Youth versus The Sea would bring up two entirely different outlooks, I imagine.

    I suppose you could change one or two details ...does yours need to involve a freighter, or could the 'hole' have come from some other sort of accident?

    I mean, it's an accident at sea. These happened before Redford's film, and will continue to happen as long as folks venture forth on the water. It's not a new concept.
     
  7. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    Then change only the small details.

    When I come across this situation I always remember a paper I had written in film school. I was assigned a paper to critique and discuss about how there are not many original ideas in film and many of the new films coming out are spin-offs or duplicates of previous films.
    The truth is ideas in today's world are primarily recycled. However, no two stories are the same. Think about the vampire films of today. You have Underworld, Twilight, Nosferatu, Interview with a Vampire, The Lost Boys, From Dusk Till Dawn, Blade, Queen of the Damned etc. There are so many stories about Vampires and many of them describe them in a variety of ways. The only thing they have in common is the description of a vampire, a story of how they came about and their most common trait of blood. However many of the scriptwriters and filmmakers had found some separation where their story can stand on it's own.

    Another example would be action films. Many of the action films I see are all about a hero fighting at all odds to protect a person or society from a group that terrorizes with fear and chaos. Much like the James Bond films that always seem to be the same formula, each story was told in a way that did not seem like it was a spinoff of the previous movie. Of course some films make fun of spinoffs and copying a previous film.

    Overall what I am trying to say is that storytelling is about innovation. No matter what you can always take a simple idea that is overused and refurbish it in a way that is better than the the previous idea. Remember, you have a whole dictionary to use and an unlimited amount of words to put together. Think outside of the box and think about what would happen to the story if you were to change one small detail.
     

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