1. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Parallel Thinking / Simpsons Did It

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by frigocc, Sep 17, 2019.

    Basically, I like to write absurdist humor, mostly scifi. My biggest inspiration is Douglas Adams after I watched the Hitchhiker's Guide movie, and then started reading the books.

    I find that the style that suits me is one similar to his, but not ripping off. I'm inspired by him, but when I come up with ideas, they're purely my own. Well, I recently finished the first book and started the second. I'm about an hour into Martin Freeman's narration, and I keep feeling like I'm in that South Park episode where Butters can't find anything original. Two examples...

    First, in one of my scenes, a character accidentally scares the main character, and he jumps up, frightened. The other character then says something along the lines of, "why are you jumping? Is the gravitational pull stabilizer malfunctioning?" I thought it was funny, because it takes a pretty commonly-written line about him jumping when startled, and makes it literal.

    Listening to the second book, Adams had a scene where Ford literally jumps in the air when you're not expecting it to be taken literally. Similar, but not too bad. But the second one...why do I even try anymore?

    My main character gets abducted by aliens, and is on a spaceship. He had to take an elevator to a different floor, and I thought it'd be funny to make the elevator sentient, and make him both a very frightened being, and also one that tries to negotiate which floor it'll actually take you to. Lo and behold, that same combination had already been done by Adams.

    Granted, these were ideas I had BEFORE I ever read them. I keep coming up with what I think are funny and awesome ideas, and a month later, I read it in one of his books.

    Why bother at this point...

    Should I keep these jokes, since I thought of them before I read them?
     
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  2. Siberian

    Siberian Member

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    Compile a list of these jokes and keep them in the back of your mind while you write. As you go let your brain think on ways to tweak the jokes a little bit and give them your own unique twist.

    I like the elevator negotiator though, that was funny
     
  3. Mish

    Mish Senior Member

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    Reminded me of this

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    This might sound pretty odd, but perhaps you have started the sequel before you were ready to. Sometimes you need to let your stories sit for a bit, particularly when it comes to sequels.
     
  5. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I like the negotiation as well. Only thing is, with my story already so clearly being influenced by HHGTG, leaving that in there would raise quite a few eyebrows (or at least one eyebrow, since my GF is probably the only one that will buy it).

    In the second book, while the elevator doesn't exactly negotiate, it seems to want the autonomy to decide where it will bring them to. It's just too similar to put into a book that's already insanely similar.

    Though, I did find something the other day that made me raise an eyebrow. I know Adams always said he was unaware of Dimensions of Miracles until after HHGTG came out, but there was a curious concept in Sheckley's OTHER novel (Options) that made me double take.

    Sounds similar to Marvin, to me. Not just the sentient inanimate object, but a robot that has been given not just feelings, but feelings of emptiness and dread. This came out in 1975, three years before HHGTG radio program.
     
  6. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    By second book, I meant the second Hitchhiker's book.
     
  7. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    If it's absurdist, then literally pointing out that it's been done before and therefore useless would be right on point. Or you could make homage or even just take the joke in a different direction. Say your character get on the elevator, the elevator wants to negotiate, and your character say's "screw it, I'm taking the stairs." Then the joke revolves around the elevator trying get the character to ride it, pleading and arguing as they reach every landing. Subtext being something about people only being happy when they're acting authentically and power being meaningless if people refuse to cooperate.
     
  8. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    I was actually chuckling as I read that.
     
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  9. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Actually you COULD turn this into a joke simply by referring to Adams's stories. Your characters occasionally mention they 'know' what's coming next, or think, "Well, it's about time the elevator started talking to me. Hey. I've read the book...."

    If you do this, Adams fans will probably love your story, rather than thinking you've ripped Adams off.
     
  10. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

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    I respectfully disagree. Frozen did something like that and it was the weakest parts of the movie. It comes off a little as a gimmick instead of an actual honest attempt at being original.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, you're right. My notion could certainly come across as a gimmick.

    I suppose the success of it would boil down to just how funny his passage actually is.

    I haven't seen Frozen, but I can imagine how this could fall VERY flat if it was too heavy-handed...or if it got put into the story just for cuteness's sake.

    I feel for our OP here, though. I hope he can salvage the situation somehow.
     
  12. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I've thought about tweaking it a little bit. My latest idea is to have the computer sentient, but a completely different personality. One of a "narrator." Basically, since my computer can read minds, he'll often cause mischief just by narrating peoples' words and thoughts, and exposing things that were meant to be kept inside their own thoughts. Could also make for some funny wordplay. Forgetting the thoughts part for a second, could go something like this (Henry is the AI):

    "Blah blah blah—"

    "—he said!" Henry said.

    "Can't you say anything other than 'he said?'" he said.

    "Lou said, " Henry said.

    "Stop it!" said Lou.

    "Sure," he said. "what about 'he exclaimed?'" he asked.

    "Just be quiet! Don't say anything!" he exclaimed.

    "He massaged his temples in frustration, secretly wishing xyz."

    "Is that true?" Garth said.

    "No!" Lou said. "Of course not!"

    "But it was," said Henry. "Deep down, he zxy."

    "Stop it!"

    "Lou said," Henry said.

    -----

    Have even thought about going deeper into the ridiculous, confusing dialogue, and typing out Henry's thoughts as well. Maybe something stupid, like:

    "Blah blah blah—"

    "—he said!" Henry said, unsure of what was meant by those hurtful words.

    "Stop it," he said.

    "–Lou said, with a feverishly terse tone," Henry said.
     
  13. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    What the hell . . . I don't even know what to do anymore. So, the idea of using Chinese finger traps as cuffs? Just started watching Dirk Gently, and lo and behold, they're used in season 2.

    Yet another of the million things I have to change now . . . and it was a big plot point, too, as it caused a few other things to happen.
     

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