1. punchthedamnkeys
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    punchthedamnkeys Member

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    What's your opinion on "Originality"?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by punchthedamnkeys, Feb 27, 2013.

    How would you feel about a book with a very similar to theme as a book from the past (although a different plot)?

    If this new book turned out to be great, could you still consider it that despite having "borrowed" another book's theme?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Everything has been done before, so I wouldn't really feel anything. There's more to a book than the theme or the plot, and I ultimately judge a book on the quality of the writing.

    Experimental stuff is probably the closest you can get to being "original." However, there are two problems with it. One, experimental works usually fail. Two, there's not a big audience for experimental works, so selling it might be a problem.
     
  3. punchthedamnkeys
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    punchthedamnkeys Member

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    what do you mean by "experimental", give me examples of one that worked if you could please... thank you
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Some of the more famous ones include Joyce's Ulysses and Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. I would also consider Jose Saramago's style to be experimental, and he had an extremely successful literary career. One recent example I enjoyed is The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus.
     
  5. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Writers do this all the time, they add the "what if" factor to the story and retell it in there own way
    good example of it is last years big hit "snow white and the huntsman" were we see some what same story but if the huntsman was one of the main characters.
    It depends on how would you do it, if you massacre the original story people will be angry that you did such a thing to their favorite story, if done write people that loved the original might want to revisit the same story but its all a thin line if you ask me.
     
  6. Bright Shadow
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    Bright Shadow Member

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    If Suzanne Collins could have a best seller (the Hunger Games) that was a blatant rip off of an earlier book (Battle Royale) which itself was inspired by an even earlier book (The Most Dangerous Game) then you have nothing to worry about.
     
  7. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    Another thing to consider is readers generally like sticking to certain books which have a specific theme or type of character(s) they enjoy. That's why there's recommendations on things like Amazon when you purchase a book. So just because an idea of yours might relate to something else doesn't make it bad, as long as it's not blatant plagiarism.
     
  8. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It depends on what you will do with the original story. If you take a popular story like The Lord of the Rings and you inject jetpacks and phaser troops then obviously the readers will condemn you for butchering the original story. When writing based on a previous work, you have the added burden that your work has to at least meet the standards of the past, if not surpass it in order for it not to be considered a rip-off of another's name.
     
  9. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    First off, I'm not a big fan of the excuse "everything has been done before." For me that is tantamount to a defendant rising in court and saying, "Your honor, someone, somewhere must have been released for stealing chickens, so why not me?"

    The answer is simple. Different circumstances bring different outcomes. Yes, The Hunger Games was a rip-off of "The Running Man," right down to the plot device of limited food.

    However, while I do not read rip-offs, I also believe in freedom. If you want to write the bezillionth book on zombies, and readers want to waste their time, then who am I to say the $29.95 spent is wrong. Having said that, I have the freedom to comment.

    I take this path, the idea is better defined as "wrong-headed." There are better books and plots out there. An informed consumer is a better consumer. Before buying yet another zombie book, walk through all of the racks at a bookstore.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there are only 3 basic story premises:

    man vs man
    man vs self
    man vs god/nature

    they first appeared on the walls of their authors' caves... all fiction written since then is merely creative plagiarism... ;)
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think we have to remember the difference between 'theme' and 'plot'. Theme has nothing to do with zombies or a re-telling of a specific earlier story. Theme is good versus evil, chaos versus order, etc - it's the idea of your story, not how you describe it. It's not zombies taking over the world - it's how unbridled science can affect the world.
     
  12. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    In my house it's "man vs. woman."

    You see, I think writing is the discussion of conflict and how we deal with it. The "hero" is actually going shopping for needed supplies--that being food, clothing, shelter and sex. Like any shopper, he needs a list, an idea of completion and resources to fill the needs. I think that's why the idea of a "quest" is so popular. We all need to go shopping.

    The current problem now is "shopping for zombies," for example. With the wide spectrum of the human experience as a canvas, the idea of a "hero and conflict" should provide a list so long it would be overwhelming. Originality should be more common.
     
  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ach, most creative cave writers were women. Drew lots of stuff about feelings for other cave women to look at, cavemen scribbled all the antelopes over the top, technical spec, non-fic. Always been the way.
     
  14. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    How bout if I put all the pages back to front? Has that been done?
     
  15. spartan928
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    spartan928 Member

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    Truly great stories are derived from archetypes of the human experience. That is, the stories are grounded in universal themes about what it means to be human. If you are pulling a strong theme from another work, that's a good thing. Its in the exploration and execution of how YOU construct YOUR story that originality takes place. The way to gauge the uniqueness of your story is ask yourself if the content (settings, dialogue, characters) are derived from this other work or they are your own. If you are simply pulling an excellent theme from a body of work, by all means go for it. That's why they exist! To inspire an audience and other artists to explore the human condition. However, if your story is borrowing a lot of content and form of other works you are in danger of looking like a copycat cliche' artist more than someone with their own voice.
     
  16. spartan928
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    spartan928 Member

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    You do see this phrase all the time but it's so misunderstood. Yes, virtually everything that can be written about the human condition has been expressed in some manner through literature. But, there is an enormous amount of work out there that completely ignores the need to use these themes as building blocks and instead rips off all kinds of content and formula from other stories. You don't have to be experimental to be original. There are still a billion ways you can tell a vampire or zombie story, but writers don't step back enough from other peoples successes to create their own unique view. Take the movie Warm Bodies for example. Another zombie flick but with an original twist and it's raking in millions at the box office.
     
  17. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    The theme of a book is just the message(s) the author wants to convey. Themes like: loneliness, poverty, death, prejudices etc. Classic books and story plots from the past are being done all the time. There's been a big revival of fairy tales lately for instance (fairy tales for adults). Some even say there's no such thing as originality-I'm not completely sure if I believe that.

    To answer your question: Would i consider a 'borrowed' plot to be cheating? I think that's what you're asking. In a movie called 'Tamara Drew' there is a character in it who is a famous writer and says: Writers are all thieves and liars' I totally believe that. We all 'borrow' from other writers. As long as we make the story our own and not a carbon copy where's the harm?
     
  18. alexa_
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    alexa_ Banned

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    Not at all. It seems to me that nowadays it is almost impossible to invent something brand new. If the plot is different, the books can be considered just of a common genre.
     
  19. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    content removed by author
     
  20. J.A.K.
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    J.A.K. Member

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    In our postmodern society, there is pretty much no originality left, as just about every story has been told. The best way to be original is to find a new spin or angle on a pre-existing idea or text.
     
  21. BBolin
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    BBolin Member

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    Make the font color match the paper you print on. I've never seen that before.
     
  22. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That's where we disagree.

    Many things have similar atttributes, cars have rubber at the four corners, for example. But even within those constraints, there is innovation every year, be that in alloys, motor design or computer engine management systems. The classic example would be the Ford vs Chevy "pony car" wars. They took a concept that did not exist at all and refined it into the zone of federal intervention within six years.

    My take is that writers are the most creative people around. Yet, far too many of us just do "variations on a theme." The idea of a 'strong female lead' who just happens to be an archer, just left-handed, is not even trying to be ground-breaking.

    At one time there about two dozen westerns on TV at the same time. The only thing similar was the horses and the 1876 SAA revolvers. And even then two of the most famous leads didn't even use those. As for creativity, some of those westerns ran for over ten years, one over twenty.

    We should be able to generate a creative story, even within a genre. After all, it's called "creative writing," not "same stuff writing."
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Originality lies in the details, not the broad strokes.
     

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