1. Mello
    Offline

    Mello Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0

    Wrong to write an unrelated story from scene in novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mello, Jan 9, 2009.

    I recently read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and there is one scene, brief as a flash of light, that I can't get out of my mind...

    The moment when the man flicks open his lighter in the basement of a house and sees men and women chained up, waiting to be eaten by the owners of the house.

    I have been obsessed with this, rather than the characters or the actual plot of the book. I can't stop thinking about what it would be like, waiting to be eaten. Would you talk to the other people around you? Would you just sit and suffer personal torment? Would you be too weak to do anything?

    I decided I really wanted to write a story about people in that situation, unconnected to anything in McCarthy's novel, of course. So should I feel like a hack, a leecher or any other term describing someone who sucks their creativity from others? Or is this a normal way of getting an idea?
     
  2. SarahN
    Offline

    SarahN Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2008
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I think we all use something we have read, seen, heard etc as a basis for our ideas. There is essentially no 'new' concept out there just new views on old concepts. I personally wouldn't think you are a parasite on another authors creativity (hehe - thought I would give you a new term) but I would be careful of how you develop your story. It is an interesting thought!
     
  3. Mello
    Offline

    Mello Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the reply. I'm relieved that you don't think I'm a parasite for this, and I'll definitely develop the story carefully. I don't want it to seem like I'm writing in his world, at all.
    I usually really hate it when people have ideas that seem really contrived, so I was very fearful of getting one of my own, that's why I panicked and made a thread. :D but I guess you're right, most everything has been done before, it's the way we do it that counts.
     
  4. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,837
    Likes Received:
    10,015
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    To have a scene in a story spark an idea for another story is only natural. I would not think that to be hack work unless you lifted the scene with little change from the original story.

    The Day of the Triffids was directly inspired by War of the Worlds. The parallels are difficult to miss. Both works are considered modern classics.

    Star Trek was inspired by the movie Forbidden Planet. Again, the parallels are quite obvious and both are considered classics of science fiction.
     
  5. Rei
    Offline

    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Kingston
    We all do it. It's impossible not to. One of my novels is based on my favourite movie. The only time this kind of stuff actually matters is when it becomes an issue of copywrite.
     
  6. othman
    Offline

    othman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    2
    anyway, the concept that you mentioned is, dare I say it, common as far as things are in books. I have seen several movies although mostly horrors that have things like this as it sparks off your empathy. Imagine being trapped in a pitch black cellar know and waiting to be killed for food, you can imagine the feeling even if you have never experienced anything like it as long as it is done well.
     
  7. jwilder
    Offline

    jwilder Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Tennessee, USA
    We all do this. Inspiration is everywhere, so write whatever you're inspired to write. I have journals and notebooks full of story shorts, random scenes, and completely re-written movies, books, and novels. None of the ideas are original - they're all inspired by another author or film maker's ideas. But I enjoy rewriting scenes in different ways, or writing tangent stories based on another writer's ideas and characters. Nothing wrong with it, and sometimes it's a good stress reliever, or a good way to inspire yourself into a brand new idea.
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    as has been said above, it's done all the time... just don't use exact wording of any part of the copyrighted [not 'copywrite' rei, which means 'to write copy' ;-) ] work...
     
  9. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I don't see a problem with it. I know I got my novel idea by making a summary for a fanfiction sequel to a movie. Then of course, it developed into it's own story, and now shares little in common with the original source. I made it my own. I think everything has been done before, so I think everybody is a "copycat" in some sense.
     
  10. BillyxRansom
    Offline

    BillyxRansom Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    1
    To my knowledge, every single piece of literature in the history of literature itself, has either taken an element of a plot from a previously written novel, or some transformation of an aspect that has been observed and scrutinized in other novels.

    Even plot devices.
     
  11. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    If the only thing being copied is a visual image and the general idea of people being chained up in a cellar to be eaten, I wouldn't even call it stealing, merely inspiration. There must be dozens of books and movies which contain roughly that idea and image. There are also real-life killers who have captured people in their homes in order to cook and eat them, like Jeffrey Dahmer. You could just as well have got the idea from there.

    And yes, I think this kind of inspiration happens all the time. Sometimes a scene strikes a chord within the reader, and the inspiration causes them to write something based on that single scene, or rather their own interpretation of it.

    I once based a story idea on a few lines of a song that really inspired me. The song was about love, but my story was a horror/adventure story. I misheard some of the words, but my imagination filled in the blanks and created something entirely different from what the songwriter had in mind. The songwriter should have credit for writing the suggestive music and poignant lyrics that inspired me, but the idea was entirely my own - if any idea can be said to be one's own.

    Having said that, I think even stealing may be ok, depending on whom you steal from and how much. For example, unabashedly ripping entire plots from the Odyssey, Hamlet or the Bhagavad-Gita would be ok, since they are considered to be parts of our common cultural heritage. The worst you could be accused of is being unoriginal. Stealing from Tolkien or J.K.Rowling is not so ok, since these works still belong to their authors - and not just in the legal sense.
     

Share This Page