1. taytay98
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    taytay98 Member

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    YA Dystopian

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by taytay98, Mar 24, 2012.

    Hello there,

    An idea for a young adult dystopian has been floating around in my head for quite a while, and I finally decided to put it on paper. But, with the recent release of The Hunger Games movie, I am a little scared.

    I'm worried that people will find it too similar to THG.

    I don't have an exact plot yet, as I'm still throwing ideas around, but I would like some opinions before I get too attached to the plot. But, what I have so far is this: A nation (Tantum) is divided into seven "Area's" and there are borders around them. You cross one of them, you're taken to the Capitol*** and you're arrested and eventually executed on live television. Three teenagers from different Area's happen to cross the border at the same time. The Capitol takes them, thinks they are trying to start a rebellion/riot/war/whatever, they escape, and are on the run and trying to stop them doing whatever they're doing at the same time.

    *** - Still don't have a name for that yet (if you have suggestions, I will love you forever and always)

    Okay, so that is very rough, so please excuse me for that.

    But what do you think? Should I scrap the whole idea? What I'm worried about is the seven area's and the government and the poverty and all that stuff, which happens to be in The Hunger Games.

    Suggestions please and thanks.

    Taylor
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Forget similarities to other stories. A story concept means nothing. No two writers will handle the same story concept the same way.

    Just write your story, and put your own voice into it.
     
  3. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Well, considering a big part of The Hunger Games is that they're put to fight as punishment... you know, your's is different, if that makes you feel better.

    But do what Cogito said, write it, it's yours. I'd only be concerned if your plot matched Hunger Games exactly.
     
  4. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also for the record The Hunger Games wasn't the first to pit teenagers against eachother in a fight to the death. There is a Japanese Movie/book called Battle Royale thing. Each year a class is abducted and taken to a island where the students are to fight to the death.

    Seems fairly similar but both are different from each other. Fighting to the death isn't exactly a new concept. The Romans had it with gladiators in the arena.(though I think fewer people died then what some fiction might say)

    I agree with Cogito though. Two people given the same story concept will come out with two different stories.
     
  5. heyitsmary
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    heyitsmary Member

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    Agreed with both of these. A lot of the critics of THG are saying it ripped off Battle Royale and/or The Running Man, even though Suzanne Collins has cited her inspiration for the story as footage of the Iraq War and reality TV shows.

    I'm writing a YA dystopian novel right now as well, and my story has similarities to a lot of other popular YA novels. At one point, I was even worried that the story was too similar to Twilight, even though they have very little in common other than a love triangle. :p But hey, a love triangle is the only similarity between THG and Twilight and people still compare the two simply because they target a similar audience. People are always going to compare and contrast, and nearly every story told will draw inspiration from some other story. Write the best story that you can and make it unique to you and your experience, and it will stand out.
     
  6. Luna13
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    Luna13 Active Member

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    Write it. If you really think about it, here are the differences between your story and THG:
    -There are multiple "areas" surrounding a single "Capitol"
    -The "areas" live in poverty while the "Capitol" is overabundant
    -There are borders between "areas" that are illegal to cross
    -People are killed on live television
    -It's in a future dystopian world

    And here are why those similarities don't matter:
    -Most countries are divided into areas (states, provinces, whatever) that surround a capitol city
    -While in most places the difference between the capitol and other places isn't so extreme, that's really like the difference between the US and Africa.
    -Isn't the whole point of a border so that people don't cross it?
    -Okay, so people aren't really killed on live television. But an execution is an execution, no matter who's watching.
    -Lots of stories are about a dystopian world - Matched, The Giver, the Uglies series... the list goes on and on.

    Write this story! If (when!) you finish it, I would love to read it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Do you know how many post-apocalyptic movies there are where the main character is traveling cross-country? The Road and The Book of Eli came out in the same year, but that didn't hurt their box office. I love movies like that so much, I want to write my own. I also want to write a book where kids get super powers, and that's been done like a million times.

    The more you write it, the more it will take on a life of its own. Even if people catch the similarities between your book and The Hunger Games, they'll see it as its own story and appreciate it anyway.
     
  8. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    Yeah, your story is different. Having your characters escaping is a lot different than having them all tossed into a pit and told to fight it out. And besides, there's a few older works that the Hunger Games are similar too, so yeah. As long as it's not an exact copy, like the hundred or so "human falls in love with vampire" books that came out after Twilight, you'll be fine.

    As far as other names, I kind of like the Primary, as in the "primary" area. Seems like the kind of place they would take people to be executed. I think ultimately though a good name will be a representation of the theme you're aiming for with the Capitol.

    I think you'd need to flesh out the areas a little more too. Why are there seven areas? Is it "just because", are they split by class like that recent Timberlake movie, or is it something else? Just an idea, but maybe the area's are each owned by a "baron" (or something), who profits from the work the people in his area does, so they don't like it when people try to cross over.
     
  9. taytay98
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    taytay98 Member

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    Thank you everyone :) I'm still trying to flesh everything out and all so it's not overly similar when it comes to the Area's and stuff :p ahaha
     
  10. krtr
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    krtr Member

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    Ok, so I really love The Hunger Games. I just finished my second reading of the books and the first thing I did after I finished and my withdraw shakes stopped was get my booty on Amazon and buy some more books about some other dystopian societies and post-apocalyptic bandwagon drivel. Not because I was looking for something that could fill the void The Hunger Games tends to leave me with when I finish, but more because I just really like the genre. I wound up buying Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien, Jodi Meadows' Incarnate (which is a little different, but still very related in its content), Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and Partials by Dan Wells. Pretty much all of these fall into the basic category of survival, oppression, etc, that defines The Hunger Games and also features a very prominent female character in the lead. None of them felt like The Hunger Games. They all had aspects that could have made the story feel like a cheap knock-off, but instead I found, and am finding, myself engrossed in each new world. It's all about the writing. You have to make it different.

    Naturally following my super dystopian novel read-a-thon, I began writing something of the genre as well. I worried about it feeling too much like a zombie thriller or The Walking Dead, which I've never even seen but was immediately thrown in my face when I mentioned a 'zombie-like creature.' I don't particularly care since I know my story, and how it will progress, what my characters will do, and why it's different. Have confidence in your work and trust yourself to create a unique world full of new opportunity and possibilities.

    If you like, you can totally message me for more in-depth talks about your world. I love world building, and since I'm building myself right now, it would be nice to bounce ideas. So, the invitation's there if you like :)
     
  11. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    I agree with what is outlined above, but I also think you are being subjected to "Harry Potter Syndrome" (I made it up but it might actually exist, don't quote me.) What it is is, to put it simply, the idea that you are on a bandwagon when actually are not.

    Harry Potter inspired children(and adults) to read other alike stories, as well as people to write them. This isn't a bad thing, not directly. It gives more books to the world and inspires people to actually read, but it is the true knockoffs you have to look out for.

    This is probably more easily understood when applied to Twilight(not that I find it too much of a literary feat.) After its success the same thing occurred, only with what was seemingly lower quality cliched paranormal romance. There were good paranormal romance novels, I'm sure, but they were few and far between. It worked wonders for the writers but not so much for the fan of paranormal romance.

    Now The Hunger Games is in the same situation, or is it... The difference here is that the idea of Dystopia(while not too prominent in YA fiction) had already been refined. From Fahrenheit 451, to Brave New World, to 1984 (all wonderful novels and should be read by any one writing Dystopian fiction.) the genre was explored. So this proposes the idea: Am I coping HG or <this dsytopian novel> or even <that dystopian novel> . What common culture tends to do is take the latest example and relate it to other similar works. The answer: you are copying everything you see, ever. And so don't worry about being a "knock-off" and just write it. Oh, if you are a knock-off no worries you'll still make a fair bit of money on it.

    tl;dr: Write it and if you like it publish it, people think they are on the bandwagon when they truly are not.
     
  12. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade Member

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    I actually had a very recent problem just as your dilemma is now. I too am trying my hand at dystopian fiction and when I had someone read over what I'd written of it, one of the comments they told me was that it reminded them of The Hunger Games. Naturally, I got paranoid that if I ever wanted to get it published that people would think I was simply ripping off The Hunger Games, but with a few tweaks, it actually doesn't resemble HG hardly at all save that it features a strong female lead and is set in a Dystopian world.

    My tips are this:

    You have a really rough story idea. I think you still have a ton to work with in terms of filling in the gaps for your idea and that it will be easy if you're being consciously aware of it while writing, not to copy HG. You have a ton of opportunity to make the story unique and completely your own. Most Dystopian novels feature (obviously) a faulty government system and a character(s) that is woken up to just how wrong the system they live in is. Often times, said government is violent in dealing with citizens who misbehave and have no mercy towards them. All three of these elements seem to be present in your story as well, and I think they are almost a structure of Dystopian fiction and are nothing to worry about because they are so vague. Also, as someone else said, pretty much everywhere in the world is a bigger place surrounded by smaller cities/towns/etc. That's not copying any book if it's something you see in real life anyway.

    I like your (albeit rough) idea for your story and do hope you don't let the fear of writing it too similar to HG scare you off from writing it at all! Good luck and happy writing! :)
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're always gonna be inspired by other stories. I've taken mine from Aladdin, various Japanese anime, Greek mythology, Baldur's Gate 2 (RPG), any and all stories that ever included some kind of "chosen one with special powers" and "epic world wars". I was even told that I apparently copied off of Ghost Rider, despite never having read the comic and only watched the film once many years ago and promptly forgot it all, since I didn't enjoy it. If all of us worried about similarities to other people's stories, I think none of us would write. As long as you're not consciously and deliberately taking elements directly from another story, it's fine. (and even then, to an extent, it's still ok as long as it is not too obvious - take the Ghost Rider reference. I realised that like it or not, a lot of people would be reminded of it far too much given my back story, so I kept my back story, and just changed my villain's name from Shadow Rider to Shadow Walker)

    Although now I'm aware that Shadow Walker resembles Luke Skywalker. But really, I don't care. They're entirely different characters in an entirely different story set in an entirely different world/environment - they don't even exist in the same time space.
     
  14. VioletBlade
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    VioletBlade Member

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    Such a true statement. Worrying about similarities to other people's work definitely got me in a writer's stuck stage, if you will, where I couldn't write anything!
     

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