1. Abraxas
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    Abraxas Member

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    When your story inadvertantly resembles another...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Abraxas, Feb 9, 2011.

    So.

    You've woken up with an awesome idea in your head - a unique setting with dynamic characters who think and interact in ways never before seen in literature. You begin the planning process, you begin to flesh out your characters, you begin to fall in love with them and the world they inhabit...

    ...and then you watch an episode of Gurren Lagaan, and realize that you've just subconsciously plaigarized a story. What do you do? Do you continue to run with the story that you genuinely cared about, or do you drastically reshape it in such a way that it's no longer recognizable.

    This sort of this happens all the time, even to professionals. Anime/sci-fi buffs will have no trouble spotting how much the cult classic series Firefly borrows from the anime Outlaw Star. Does anyone have any experience with this?
     
  2. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    I've had a little of this, where I've had ideas that seem entirely original only to see something almost identical a week later. I keep my ideas though. You see, while our ideas are very similar, they aren't identical. Also, the way we present them isn't the same.

    For an easy example, think digimon and pokemon. Tons of monsters that are trained and treated like pets or friends, similar titles, these monsters have powers rooted in classic elements and the "evolve", the main characters are nearly the same age, the creatures all resemble real objects and animals, and all the monsters have a number of specific skills or powers. Two stories similar in many many ways. But they are different in enough ways to allow the audience to differentiate the two. Monster Hunter also followed a similar pattern. But in pokemon the monsters were natural, in digimon they were digital, and in monster hunters (I think) the monsters were part of a video game.

    The important thing is simply that the stories aren't identical. Similar is fine though, and it happens all the time.
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Plant the idea, but let it rest. Sooner or later you will be inspired by something more and the original story, and the new elements will merge into something more.
     
  4. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be fair, Digimon (at least the first series) had a complex plot, and deep characters with actual family and often very serious background stories. Pokemon was the same crap over and over again for 500 + episodes (sorry, I love Digimon and hate when they are compared).

    Well, over to what the thread is actually about. Even if you don't do anything about your story, it's still great to write it, even if nothing comes out of it. Every story you complete (or even if you don't) is a great experience that teaches you something, no matter if you publish it or not. I have a Buffy fanfiction that spans over five books, all about 4-500 pages each. Can't do nothing with them, but I write them anyway.
     
  5. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am always honest about it - my stories are pretty much their own however I know I got my ideas from He-Man, Torchwood, Dr Who etc Agatha Christie and Last of the Summer Wine are inspiring the latest series of books.
     
  6. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    About a month after I started writing my story, I discovered a book called Evolution by Stephen Baxter. The concept was similar to mine. I picked up a copy and quickly discovered that Baxter's writing style was completely different than my own. I felt better. Then, when I got to the part of Baxter's story where he had velociraptors wearing leather belts and using whips to catch their prey, I knew that I was safe. That's also where I stopped reading the book.
     
  7. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    We are influenced by all of that which has come before, just like those authors were influenced by things that they had read. It is fine to use similar ideas and things you liked from others, then turn it around and make it your own. Unless you're setting out to copy the other work you're on pretty solid ground.
     
  8. Paris_Love
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    Paris_Love Member

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    "There is nothing new under the sun." <<That phrase is thousands of years old.

    Retell the story you like, but throw a twist into the plot. That's all that JK Rowling did, she basically re-wrote Star Wars, but had wizards and magic instead of spaceships and droids. It's called the hero's journey, and that is the basic building block of all modern story telling.

    Check out: The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. It is an invaluable tool for any story teller.
     
  9. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Yes, unfortunatley. Quite a few times. And on one hand it's aggravating and on the other it's promising because I can always create my own story out of the idea. I can retell it in my own way, with my own opinions, and my own voice. So don't give up you guys!
     
  10. daydreams
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    daydreams Member

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    Nothing is entirely unique. How close was your story to the one you found out later on? Was it exactly the same? Was it somewhat different but with the same general plot and conflict?
     
  11. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    I've only read the Wikipedia page, but there's not a lot about Gurren Lagaan which is totally original, the whole concept of living underground and being attacked by non human creatures has been done before and will be done again. Antz, City of Ember and Metro 2033 all had themes about soceities living underground and all three are unique and original.

    One of the few things they all have in common is a sense of comradely with thier fellow underground dwellers, a desire to escape and explore the outside, a lack of supplies and personal space and corrupt rulers.

    Try exploring these themes in different stories and you will have a very good plot.
     
  12. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Well it was, up to that point, unique to me. And NO, it wasn't exactly the same and NO it didn't have the same general plot and conflict. (I pride myself on holding a different POV from other writers who I find common ideas with). What I choose as conflict is sometimes very different from another author's choice.

    And plot -- that's a whole other different question. Plot is how YOU choose to tell the story. And it, NO, wasn't the same kind of plot at all.

    P.S. If it was really, really similar, I would have changed my story. But it wasn't.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there will always be novels and movies that are similar... that's the nature of the creative mind... if you can dream up a plot, why couldn't someone else do the same?...

    the point to remember is that no two people will develop the idea and write the entire story in exactly the same way...
     
  14. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Exactly, Mammamaia. Thank you for backing me up on that!
     
  15. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    Monster Hunter is nothing like those other two...
     
  16. FictionAddict
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    FictionAddict Senior Member

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    1841, Edgar Allan Poe writes a short story named The Murders in the Rue Morgue. The story is narrated by Auguste Dupin, a man that uses his astute logical reasoning to solve the mystery.

    1887, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle writes his first detective mystery novel, A Study in Scarlet, where Doctor Watson tells us a story about a man called Sherlock Holmes. The latter after becomes one of the most important literary detective characters, famous by using his astute logical reasoning to solve mysteries.

    You see? As cleaverly said by daydreams, nothing is entirely unique.
     
  17. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I experienced this not too long ago. The thing is that I'd already finished writing the story months before the film (the movie adaption of Shutter Island) had even come out. The general plot was different but the roles of the sidekick and the dead lover, as well as the eventual climax and ending and the protagonists reaction to these events, were exactly the same. However, I'd never even heard of the book let alone read it before writing the story. Anyone who reads it after seeing the film will instantly think I've ripped off the idea from Dennis Lehane. If I'd seen the film earlier I think I would have stopped writing it. Even now I've been put off the idea of re-writing it.
     
  18. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    Sorry Rennat, I meant Monster Rancher.
     
  19. Bonesaw
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    Bonesaw New Member

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    You continue to run with it because all fiction falls into a handful of categories. Stories are bound to resemble other stories. Besides, it happens all the time. Consider, Avatar/The Last Samurai/Dances with Wolves all with a very similar story.
     
  20. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    This reminds me of a thread I made about how my helmsman in my sci-fi story was disturbingly similar to Joker from the Mass Effect videogame series. The responses I got will fit here.

    The gist is, just take what you like about that story (or character) and alter it. Make it so it's uniquely yours.

    But if you think your story is too much like the other story that it feels like a fan-fic, then step back and examine the plot. You may have to shred it up and start all over again.

    I also agree with Bonesaw. The gist of those three movies is that an outsider winds up fighting for the nation/tribe his own country was at conflict with.
     

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