1. Monosmith
    Offline

    Monosmith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Utnapishtim

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Monosmith, Jan 30, 2012.

    Utnapishtim is a character in my story and a character in the epic of Gilgamesh, also known as Atrahasis in another account and alternatively translated as Uta-Napishti. To explain the background of this man within the context of the latter, he was the Sumerian equivalent of Noah. The noise of mankind annoyed the chief god living on Earth, Enlil, and he decided to wipe out the nuisance with a flood. The god Ae liked humankind and warned Utnapishtim, and Utnapishtim made a boat and survived the flood with his family and the animals of the earth. When he later landed on a mountain, Enlil was angry that Ae had warned him, but Ae argued on Utnapishtim's behalf and the gods decided to give the man and his wife eternal life. On the flip side, he was sent to "dwell at the source of the rivers" far from the rest of humanity.

    The Utnapishtim in my story is similar. I can't give away all the details, but the idea is that a great force saved him from certain death that killed everyone else he knew and placed him in in a cool mansion in the mantle of the sun. While he remained human, the force gave him some of his power and he became immortal, and he has been in the sun ever since, waiting. By the time the story starts, he's been in there somewhere around 4,000-5,000 years. He has information that could save the rest of humanity from the force that killed his people.

    Yet I encounter several creative dilemmas. The first is, I don't like to play the part of historical revisionist and say "history wasn't good enough the way it was and secretly my creative plot forces were behind it all along! Buwahahahahahaha!" (see: Transformers and how all of manking's developments were the result of Megatron; 39 Clues and how everyone who was someone was related to a certain family; Percy Jackson and how everyone who was someone was a demi-god; and for that matter just about every work of low fantasy and sci-fi). It's old and I don't like doing it. I don't like using my sci-fi and fantasy to explain real-world things. So therefore, I hope to make it clear when he appears in the story that he's not the Utnapishtim in the Epic of Gilgamesh, but I don't want it to be coincidence, so the way I figure it is that the force that put him there in the first place renamed him something fitting.

    Moving past that, what concerns me is how readers are going to interpret this. Later on, someone's going to discover him (or his remains if the deadly force gets to him first), and Utnapishtim is going to have this huge effect on the plot that should be mystical as he reveals some of the mysteries of the universe and the secrets of immortality to the protagonist. I want it to entertain the reader as the mystery within the series unfolds, but for those familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh it might be distracting and they could think that I'm just lifting scenario from a great literary work.

    What thinkest thou?

    Monosmith
     
  2. MegTheLedge
    Offline

    MegTheLedge Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Under a fuzzy hat
    It sounds like plagiarism to me. It's the same exact story. Same character, same everything.
     
  3. jc.
    Offline

    jc. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Hawaii
    I like your idea and am not sure if it's really plagiarism if it's a continuation. It's kind of like a translation or fan fiction. I'm not familiar with the texts though. It's been a while since I read it (high school).
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's your story. Write it, or don't, but it's pointless to ask for validation on the idea.

    Do you know why ideas are not copyrightable? It's because they are useless. No two writers will do the same treatment of the same idea. One such story may be an award winner, another not fit for lining a cat litterbox. It all depends on the writing.
     
  5. MegTheLedge
    Offline

    MegTheLedge Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Under a fuzzy hat
    Oh. It's a continuation. Life makes sense. Disregard my earlier statement. I need to learn how to read.

    Or just get some sleep.

    Sorry about that, mate. :)
     
  6. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    But you are basing your character on Gilgamesh, very much so in fact. I Many writers used inspiration from other books to write their own, but the closer the character is to another, the more likely readers are to recognize it. It's not plagiarism, but it makes it much more difficult to offer something new. Like when people start writing alternative Sherlock Holmes. Regardless of whether it is a baby Sherlock, space Sherlock, whatever, it's still fan fiction.
    By changing the name, you are no longer technically writing fan fiction, but the closer your story is to an existing one, the closer you are getting to it.
    In any case, anyone can turn any idea into a great book, if they can write well enough :)
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    dittoing cog yet again!
     
  8. Monosmith
    Offline

    Monosmith Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    I actually have several characters within my series who are named after classical figures, from Brutus to Michelangelo to Leonidas because on some tangent they remind me of those figures, although they're really their own. My Uta-Napishti isn't necessarily like the one in Gilgamesh, but as far a his function in the plot I found similarities. The way it happened was that I was reading Gilgamesh and afterword the idea of the man living alone at the source of all life (the rivers) helped inspire an answer to a few empty areas to the plot of a saga I've been working on for a long time.

    I'm not entirely sure why it would be considered fan fiction, because Shakespeare likewise took ideas from classic literature and lore in A Midsummer Night's Dream such as Theseus' servant Philostrate and the fairy king Oberon.

    But Cogito made the right point. What on Earth am I doing asking around here? I know what I'm doing and I know that my idea works like a charm within the vast context of my series and nothing anyone says here is going to change that. I suppose that the only thing I wanted was to check how familiar people were with the name.

    Monosmith
     
  9. fb.
    Offline

    fb. New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, the source material must be nearly 5,000 years old, so I wouldn't consider it plagiarism or fan fiction. It's no different to having Greek gods or King Arthur in your story, or even retelling those stories outright. Look at Percy Jackson or The Sword in the Stone.

    I'm not aware of anyone who's used Gilgamesh in this way, so I say go for it. However, Cogito is bang on the money: an idea is just an idea. I find it an interesting one, but you could spin gold or garbage from the same starting point :)
     

Share This Page