Inspiration vs. Stealing a Story

Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by Daniel, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2018
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    80
    Well, all you've told us are that you are changing the characters, plot, and setting. Those are the only parts of a story. It depends how much you change them.


    Also, everyone steals. Pick any famous piece of media or literature. Let's say West Side Story.

    Everyone knows that's derived from Romeo and Juliet
    But
    Romeo and Juliet is almost identical to many much older stories, and no one noticed, and when they did, they didn't care. They just said,
    "But he did it way better."

    Also, Disney's the Lion King is just Hamlet but with lions instead of people and music. The second Lion King is just Romeo and Juliet, but no one cares about that movie.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2016
    Messages:
    2,525
    Likes Received:
    3,400
    Interesting (or not) factoid:

    I was 16 and in juvenile jail when this thread was created.
     
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    4,338
    Likes Received:
    6,862
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    I was 27 and (checks exact date) just into the first few months of courtship with my wife.

    Hey, this is fun! What were you doing when this old ass thread was created?
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    9,870
    Likes Received:
    10,671
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    Twelve years, that's a hell of a necro. I was just starting work as a national trails officer,
     
  5. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2016
    Messages:
    2,061
    Likes Received:
    3,017
    I was 35, working a day job as a tech support/technical writing for a niche software company and by night teaching and performing Middle Eastern Dance. I was still 4 years away from writing my very first story, which seems insane!
     
    Homer Potvin and Spencer1990 like this.
  6. Moon

    Moon De Devil Mon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2017
    Messages:
    1,474
    Likes Received:
    3,398
    Location:
    New York
    Something something, High school, something something shitty retail work, something something. Goddamn I'm getting older by the second.
     
    Spencer1990 likes this.
  7. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    4,338
    Likes Received:
    6,862
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    And I had three novels under my belt... what the fuck happened to me?

    (Oh, yeah, real life and responsibility... I'm going to get drunk now)
     
    Siberian, Moon and Shenanigator like this.
  8. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Not a Fucking Doormat Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    3,515
    Likes Received:
    5,038
    I was working on a project I loved, and things were about to go crash.

    ETA: Hadn't started writing fiction again yet but was doing lots of non-fiction.
     
    Moon likes this.
  9. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Messages:
    390
    Likes Received:
    487
    Location:
    England
    It's a tricky question to answer, and a case by case evaluation might be the only way to come to a conclusion. In short, if it feels to you like it's stealing, then it probably is.
    That said, people get inspiration for their writing quite often from things they've read. Sometimes subconsciously. For example, had J.K Rowling just finished an enjoyable re-read of Lord of the Rings when she came up with the black robed wraith-like creatures she ended up calling Dementors?

    To pursue the Harry Potter example, yes, it would be fine to write a story about some characters in a wizard school. Wizards and schools aren't concepts an author can say "That's mine" about. But if your main character in this hypothetical series also has black hair, green eyes and a lightning bolt scar, then you're heading for trouble.
     
    SkinnyPuppy likes this.
  10. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2018
    Messages:
    334
    Likes Received:
    278
    Yes, it is the details that matter. I myself am a sucker for "epic fantasy quests from one end of the country to the other" stories, but by this point in human history, it's simply a trope that belongs to no single individual. I've had many (unfinished) stories that have been inspired by stories that I enjoy, but that's basically it: The inspiration. Everything else is me finding ways to make that idea my own, make my characters my own. You can have the "child of prophecy" storyline that humans have written thousands of times, but do things that make it uniquely yours. It's okay to be inspired by something, but the rest has to be up to your own imagination.
     
    Nariac likes this.
  11. WingedClover

    WingedClover Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2018
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Orangetown
    I was getting thrown into a private school when this thread was made.

    It all depends on what you do with it and the execution in my opinion. Harry Potter has the magic school down tight. The Magicians (tv series) is basically a magic college and Magi has a magic school inside of a magic country. But all of them differ on their treatment of non-magics and how they take care of normies who find out.

    So maybe your wizard has a female consultant and deals with demons, but so much could be altered from that point onward. The demons could be part of a hierarchy. Maybe it is a case by case investigation for each book or it could be a series of cases all tying back to one grand manipulator. Also, he could be part of a department or even have the consultant be his protege.

    I agree with @BlitzGirl and I actually have a story about an eldritch hero that fights monsters. I thought to myself "This plot is similar to Danny Phantom", but then I thought again, "He's nothing like Danny Phantom. ". So it can have a similar concept or parts, but it's your story and your POV that makes it different as well as your other influences that go into.
     
  12. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    2,743
    Likes Received:
    2,076
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I was working in my final full time architecture job, working my rear off trying to get a set of construction documents done on a project that would turn out to be my downfall. Nothing I did wrong, I just made a convenient scapegoat. By April, I was laid off under very bizarre circumstances and unless you count a couple-three freelance gigs, I haven't had a architecture job since.

    Depressing.
     
  13. Shnette

    Shnette Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2016
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    102
    Location:
    Earth
    Inspiration vs Stolen. That's a good question.
    I don't think you can prove that an idea or concept was stolen, because that's where the inspiration begins. But you can prove that a story was stolen because the idea or concept is already complete.

    Just because I claim that someone stole my concept or idea, doesn't mean we're going to have the same stories. IF we have the same stories, then that's a problem.
     
  14. SkinnyPuppy

    SkinnyPuppy Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2018
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    901
    Location:
    San Tan Valley
    This right here, well stated. If I feel in any way "icky" or self-conscious that the similarities are too vast, I will not even touch it. As a writer, I glean inspiration from many sources, but as an ethical writer, I want to be known for my unique voice, talent, and imagination. Trust me, avid readers will know, and history will not distinguish you from the idea you cloned from the raw talent of another.
     
    Shenanigator and Nariac like this.
  15. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2018
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    1,401
    Location:
    Chicago
    Oh boy... I was in eighth grade, probably recovering from my first season of football (American). I was also obsessed with zombies and was writing a zombie apocalypse novel called "Affliction". It will never see the light of day.
     
  16. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2017
    Messages:
    936
    Likes Received:
    1,094
    Location:
    Greater London, England
    December 2006, I was 18 and enjoying living away from my family, though my fellow first year flatmates were there for the party and not sure much for the studying.

    Anyhow, as for the question at hand.

    I think one thing a good author has to admit is that no story is 100% original. We draw inspiration and put a different spin on things.

    Let's say that a story built around the same premise is like a chicken drumstick. Drumsticks have the same structure because they are the same species, but factors like breeding, whether or not the chicken was free range before it was killed, the way it is cooked, and what seasonings it is cooked with, all contribute to the final product we sink our teeth into.

    We can read a story and think, "I could do better with that premise," make our own characters, and tweak the plot based on different visions, and that won't be stealing the idea. Thinking the idea is good and making one to make money off the same audience would lean more towards it.
     
  17. disasterspark

    disasterspark Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2018
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    United States
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,149
    Likes Received:
    11,245
    You say "stole". Do you have some reason for assuming that they didn't seek and receive permission?
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    12,456
    Likes Received:
    6,765
    Location:
    California, US
    To get into specifics--what characters do you think he stole?
     
  20. Kingwood Kid

    Kingwood Kid Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2018
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I understand what you're saying, but I think this is greatly oversimplifying. If all the reader cared about was plot, characters and setting, there'd be little point reading anything but the back cover. How you get there is what's important. The book can be funny, suspenseful, inspiring, etc... I'd also say that many works aren't about their plot at all; the plot is just a device used to let the characters do what they do or for the author to explore themes or use big words or whatever.
     
  21. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2018
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    80
    Yeah of course most readers don't just want the basics, I just mean that we would need more information on what's being changed than "character, plot, and setting" to make suggestions.
     
  22. Senko

    Senko Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2013
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    10
    I guess that, in a medium sized story /book, the probability that you end up with the same plot, characters, jokes, tragedies, ..... is near to zero. Having read many books over the time, I think you can always be inspired by things that you have read in the past, even if you don´t plan it.
     
    Kingwood Kid likes this.
  23. Senko

    Senko Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2013
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    10
    By the way, When I was writing my previous post, I hadn´t noticed that this thread is almost 12 years old!!

    At that time, I had not yet discovered the existance of this wonderful forum.
     
  24. NathanLyle

    NathanLyle New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2018
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Texas
    I can remember exactly what my life was like the day this thread was started. I'm guessing you don't want all the details I can give you. So I'll just say I was 16, a junior in high school, writing songs every day because I wanted to impress girls. I was about to start developing some story ideas.
     
  25. Artifacs

    Artifacs Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2018
    Messages:
    152
    Likes Received:
    95
    Location:
    Spain
    Has ever happen two writers publishing the same book at almost the same time? I mean, not the same exactly book but essencialy the same book.
    Which would be consider the fake one?.
    This could be an issue in the near future.
     

Share This Page