1. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    Using another writer's idea

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Byzantine Bandit, Jun 4, 2013.

    So in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole books (which I should probably get around to re-reading), the best way for the heroes to avoid brainwashing is by re-telling legends. Would it be okay to use this concept in a story of my own, or would that be plagiarism or something? Thanks!
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Why use someone else's idea when you can make your own original idea?
     
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  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Blackstar nailed it. What kind of writer do you want to be?
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Lifting such a specific idea to the note is not cool. Can you not use the idea as inspiration for your own instead of lifting it?
     
  5. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    Okay, gotcha. Thanks guys. I just really liked that idea.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    double post
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it's an ancient custom present in all the nations throughout history, either epic poems or otherwise myths, legends and songs that were told especially during times of occupation and war, to maintain their own heritage as well as preserve the truth (resist the propaganda of their enemies).
    So you wouldn't be nicking the idea from anyone, it is an universal event which you can simply use and make your own. If you liked the idea, find the way to make it work, don't get disheartened by a few comments.
     
  8. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I have used other writers idea's but I always put my own special touches on the idea so I would not commit plagierism
     
  9. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    Thanks! I had intended to use it in a more or less different way. For one thing, in the story I'm working on the species of the characters themselves is different, so they're unlikely to be in the same situation as the owls of Ga'Hoole.

    Is it bad that my characters are also called "guardians?" I don't think it should be since their hierarchy is rather different from that of Ga'Hoole (plus they're humans, not owls), so basically the principle that both fight evil would be the big link between these guardians and the Guardians of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not at all, it's an universal enough designation, like 'watchmen' or 'watchers'. Thousands of stories have them.
     
  11. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    Neat! Thanks!
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I agree with everyone. I know that sounds weird so let me elaborate.

    It's not a good idea to lift someone else's idea. It's never good artistically or morally to do that.

    That being said every idea every concept has been used already. It's your voice that will make it unique. I feel this is a tricky situation all in all. I don't think you should ever intentionally use another author's idea. The thing is we all want to believe imagination is truly infinite but can you imagine a new color that does not use any existing colors? Sometimes ideas and concepts will overlap unintentionally. Intent is very important in these situations, imo.

    Handing down legends and history is something most all if not all civilizations do. History and culture are very important.

    Bottom line don't lift someone's concept because that's not cool at all. Also do not get yourself in knots if your concept is inspired by theirs or overlaps unintentionally.
     
  13. Lucas
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    Lucas Member

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    IMHO I think it would be fine to re-use this idea as long as you put your own spin on it. I especially think it would be fine to use if it's not a major event in your story.
     
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  14. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    Id say you could use the premise, but change it a lot. no writer can tell you everything in their story was uninfluenced. If I wrote a story about living robots, would I be copying Transformers,Terminator or Robocop? no I would not. If I had a robot story of optimus prime comeing down to protect john Conner from a decpticon robocop that then realizes he is self-aware (i-robot),THAT would be a problem.
    and if most of the arguments of the above hold true, respectfully, all of fanfic is a bastard child of lit.
     
  15. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Everybody lifts other people's ideas. Those who say they've never done any such thing are probably either in denial or don't produce very much writing. But it's like writing an essay in a university: they want you to use other people's ideas, but you shouldn't just copy/paste. Take the idea and put your own label on it, i.e. use the same idea to produce something original, take the idea further than the source of your inspiration did, make it look like your own. It's funny, but that sort of semi-plagiarism is the modus operandi in universities when you write papers etc.

    Don't worry about plagiarism, because no matter what you do, it will be different, because you're not that guy/gal from whom you got the inspiration. It's almost impossible to end up with exactly the same stuff than what they did.

    An example from music: I heard a great melody in an old renaissance song, so I stole it: I changed it up a bit, gave the melody to a singer instead of a lute player (we don't even have a lute player in our band), and embedded the melody into a metal riff with aggressive drums and a thumping bass. Nobody has ever recognized the melody even though it's essentially the same: the melody follows the same chord progression even if the exact notes are different. I wouldn't recognize it if I hadn't done it myself.

    So go ahead, use the idea, play with it, make it grow, make it your own.
     
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  16. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Take the concept itself, build your own history into it, and your own reasons it is used (unless it is the general "this is who we are as a people" that is very historical, as Jazzabel mentions). General ideas can't be stolen (in fiction writing). Wording, phrasing, or plotlines can be. That's the difference. Basically, if your reader can read your story and not say, "Oh, look, he's using such and such's plot device," you're good.
     
  17. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Quoted because this was what I was attempting to say but upon rereading it I don't think it came out right. I was trying to say don't lift it as in don't use it word for word and make it your own. :p
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not just word-for-word. Even if you edit it heavily, the source may remain identifiable, and that is still plagiarism. Identical structure can betray you even if the wording is changed to disguise the source.
     
  19. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's why it's a good idea to also add something to the source material, something that wasn't in the original work. For instance, using my university example, the teachers expect you to expand on the original idea, draw some new conclusions about it or perhaps argue against the source material because you find something wrong with the original paper's conclusions. Then again, sometimes a different wording and a vastly different setting can be used consciously to tell an essentially similar story. Satires, parodies, caricatures, lampoons, and burlesque novels do this a lot, they use a similar structure, but show the original work in a ridiculous light (of course there's a lot more to those genres, but I'd say that's the basic idea in its most simplified form).
     
  20. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    good point made there : changing context changes the source, even if wording AND structure remain more or less intact. Makes you wonder what constitutes plagiarism and what constitutes text as a text.

    To OP : if you like an idea you found in one book (or you liked a book) that much that it makes you want to write your own, maybe it's good thing to look up for as manyher books in the same genre, and as many books in a completely different genre(s)... widen you perspecive, so the original idea is given more space to breath.
     
  21. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's also a good idea. I do that a lot with songs. For instance, if I hear a great Slavic melody, but don't really have a solid grasp on how to write an authentic one myself, I listen to more Slavic stuff and gradually I get a "feel" for the harmony. Then I can produce something that's inspired by the source material but is still my own and hopefully even expands on the original. I think the same applies to writing.
     

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