Inspiration vs. Stealing a Story

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

  1. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    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
  2. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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!
     
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  6. Moon

    Moon 真似の神 Contributor

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    Something something, High school, something something shitty retail work, something something. Goddamn I'm getting older by the second.
     
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  7. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    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)
     
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  8. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Bothered

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    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.
     
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  9. Nariac

    Nariac Member

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    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.
     
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  10. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Member

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    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.
     
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  11. WingedClover

    WingedClover Member

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    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

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    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 Member

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    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 Active Member

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    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.
     
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  15. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    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

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    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 New Member

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  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    You say "stole". Do you have some reason for assuming that they didn't seek and receive permission?
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    To get into specifics--what characters do you think he stole?
     
  20. Kingwood Kid

    Kingwood Kid Member

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    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

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    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

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    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.
     
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  23. Senko

    Senko Member

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    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.
     

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