1. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    Reading similar fiction

    Discussion in 'Research' started by writingistelepathy, Aug 17, 2019.

    Do you read similar existing fiction before/during writing your own idea?

    I’m just not sure if it’s a good idea to, or not. My dilemma is this. I’ve started plotting an idea out and I have identified some similar* existing fiction to read beforehand. Just really to see what’s been done before and a bit of research of styles, plots etc.

    Now, I’ve come across a synopsis of a book that is very VERY close to my idea. Or at least a few parts of it. I actually shouted out “SOMEONE STOLE MY IDEA!!!” out loud (obviously I know it can’t be exactly the same, and lots of stories have similar premises).

    Is it a good idea to read it? Will it help or hinder me at this stage?

    *Books with either similar themes, genre, character, plot, setting, time era etc
     
  2. Lawless

    Lawless Active Member

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    I'm not sure I've ever had a writing idea completely different from everything I had ever read. My best guess is: it won't harm you to read that other book, but don't let it distract you so much that you start postponing your actual writing. Let it inspire you to write something just as good or even better.
     
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  3. LazyBear

    LazyBear Active Member

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    I read other books for style, but reading a similar story arc can cause overthinking about avoiding plagiarism until it steers everything in odd directions. History books are better sources anyway by letting you refer to bizarre religions forgotten by popular culture.

    Superman was probably inspired by Akhenaten's short lived religion Atenism, with a divine father from above who's light heal broken bones and burn enemies to ashes. The connection to Egyptology was also hinted in the spin-off Smallville using hieroglyphs in the coffe shop. As long as the source is old enough, people don't care if you borrowed some ideas.
     
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  4. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Read it! If the book you wish to write is already written that means someone has saved you the bother :)

    No one OWNS a plot. I’d argue that ALL narratives are effectively the same thing and that artistically it is the manner of telling a story that makes to shine (or not). This could be due to setting, style, character focus, all wrapped around the author’s personal experience of, and attitude toward, writing.

    As a general rule of thumb, if you’re scared of something face it. Almost every time you do the benefits will far outweigh the deficit.
     
  5. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I definitely read within my genre while I'm writing. It shows me what's effective, warns me off inadvertent duplication, and gives me ideas for variations on a theme.
     
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  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a very good way to look at it, in my opinion. If you see similarities in plot or characterisation, you can then avoid them, if you want. However, you'll also have the genre's expectations firmly in mind as you write.
     
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  7. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Contributor

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    I get the feeling this is a bit of a dangerous road. I see all the positives from the previous posters, and get it, but I get this lingering thought that some of those ideas created by those authors will inadvertently transfer into your work. I mean, most every idea has been done before, so don't worry about that because it's all about how the writing is done and the quality. I worry about unconscious implementation of exact or similar ideas to your story. You may take their best ideas without really knowing it.

    Just something to look out for while following all the previous posters good advice.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Although I don't write category genre, I would probably avoid doing this myself. Not so much because I might transfer ideas from their book to mine, but that I might lose my own ideas altogether and lose interest in my story. But maybe that's why I don't write category genre. I still don't know precisely what genre my novel fits into.

    What I would certainly recommend is that any category genre writer should read LOTS in that genre at some point, to get a flavour of how the genre works. Just not necessarily while they are writing themselves—unless they work better that way.

    It's down to individuals, isn't it?
     
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  9. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    We all hate those dudes and duderinas with time machines. Why do they go to the future to copy our ideas and past to publish them?

    (Yeah, yeah... I know someone of them answered this question before I made it. And it's annoying.)
     
  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Spitting .45 caliber grammar.... Contributor

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    I blatantly and gleefully rip stuff off from other authors all the time, rewording or structuring it to fit my own vibe. They did the same thing, too. No shame in anyone's game.

    There's that great line in The Simpsons where the creator of Itchy and Scratchy is one trial for plagurism and he asks the judge something like, "If we can't rip off other cartoons, then where are we suppsoed to get our ideas?"
     
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  11. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    This. All of this.

    Never while I'm writing. When I was a songwriter, the George Harrison "My Sweet Lord" / "He's So Fine" copyright verdict was constantly drilled into my head by my mentors. So even though I know authors do it, it's hard to wrap my head around the concept of intentionally trying to copy style, or structure, or...whatever it is. I just can't do it. When I'm writing fiction I tend to read mostly non-fiction, and vice-versa.
     
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  12. writingistelepathy

    writingistelepathy Member

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    Thank you for everyone’s thoughts!

    I read the book, and of course it was nothing like my idea.
     

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