1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Shoot! I'm not as original as I thought.

    Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by deadrats, Sep 24, 2019.

    I like to think my ideas are original. I read a lot and I never think, oh, I've read this story before. But just because I haven't read it doesn't mean it hasn't been done. It just sucks when you're working on something that closely follows or mirrors something someone else already wrote. It hurts a little, no?

    Yesterday I started a new short story and almost finished it. Until my lover came home from work and said my story sounded just like another story and a movie. I hadn't seen or read it, but it was a little crushing. My lover read the first page and said I seemed like I was writing the same story. I deliberately started taking things in another direction and adding more to the situation. I made the characters more complex so they wouldn't seem like copies of anything or anyone since I guess my idea actually happened as the book and movie are based on a true story. I didn't google it. I worked on MY story.

    Still, the basic idea of the story is still there in some form. There's no real way around that. Yesterday, the actual writing was coming out awesome. Better than usual. I was falling in love with every word I put down in it's perfect little spot. I wish everything I wrote came out so good, especially in a first draft. Damn.

    What can I do about this if anything? I mean I've gone back and changed the story quite a bit. I was close to the end, but I was thinking my ending was going to be pretty much exactly what happened in this other story. And I guess the whole story is really well known since it happened in real life and I hear the movie was pretty good. So, I'm ditching that ending. But the main thing going on in the story is what was going on with the other story. I'm giving myself a day or two to think about my story and other endings. I'm seeing what I can come up with to flip the script, so to speak. I don't want people to immediately think of the true story. I want to be original enough (whatever that means).

    Is it a mistake not to look up the actual story? Am I going to accidentally put in more details that seem like the other story when I'm trying to make it my own? I'm worried it will influence me or frustrate me to know anymore at this point.

    Man. this suck. This has never happened to me before. Has something like this happened to you? Were you able to fix and finish your story? Was your story still published? Did I just write 4k useless words? And in cases like this, I would assume my story needs to come out better (and different) for anything to happen with it, right?
     
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  2. Lifeline

    Lifeline Going South. Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say let the chips fall where they may. You won't ever be able to find out in the writing that the premise of your story has been done. And even if. Doesn't matter. You have your own unique way to say something and I challenge you to say that your way is not as valid as other ways. What matters is the reader and what they take away from reading it.

    I've the opposite problem; not finding any story comparable to my story. And man, that does piss me off sometimes. Feels like inventing the wheel anew each time I sit down to write.
     
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  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Hey @Lifeline. How are you? Message me what you're up to if you get a chance. Always great to hear from you. I usually don't think about if my story has been done or not or how original it is. I almost think it has to be original because it's coming from me. And with this story, I thought I was making it up as I was writing it. I honestly had never heard of this story actually happening. I'm pretty bummed out. I'm trying to take things in a different direction, but it feels like that's what I'm trying to do rather than create something that's actually new. And according to my lover, everyone knows this story.

    I wouldn't worry too much about not finding stories that are like yours. I think that's probably a better problem to have. Are you talking about your novel or a short story? The only time I ever had to come up with similar books to mine was when I was writing a nonfiction book proposal. It's not something I would include in a query letter for a novel. And I certainly wouldn't even think about mentioning similar works with a short story submission. Here's hoping you won't find a story just like yours. And with mine, someone actually lived this story. I still can't believe I did this.
     
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  4. Glen Barrington

    Glen Barrington Active Member

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    None of us are as original as our egos seem to think! Tell your ego you'll just write it better, that's all. Don't research the "other guy's" story until you've got yours written. If it's too close, you can always change it, but if you put reins on your vision at the beginning, you'll just write crap.
     
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  5. The Dapper Hooligan

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

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    You may be one in a million, but even if you are that means that right now, statistically, there are around 7000 people on earth just like you. The only way I can think of fighting this is to drastically lower the world population, though I officially can't endorse that stance.

    Yup. It do.

    Must be nice.

    Yes.

    It didn't really matter.

    Yeah, people aren't really interested in "never seen before," stories, they want stories that are well written and for the most part only take exception when it comes to "legally distinct" territory; think Dante's Peak vs. Volcano The Illusionist vs. The Prestige, Antz vs. A Bugs Life, The Thin Red Line vs. Saving Private Ryan, Deep Impact vs. Armageddon etc.

    Nothing is ever truly a waste as long as you learned something in the process.

    I'm going to assume you were already going to do your best with the story to begin with, in which case the answer would be: no, you probably don't have to worry about quality. If you were going to half-ass it, then yes, you should probably make it better. As for different, see my comment above. Try not to worry about it, shop it around, if people think it's well written, but too similar to something else, they will likely tell you that, especially considering that for them to make that determination, they'll likely have to read the manuscript unless you tell them about it in your query letter. In which case, don't do that.
     
  6. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    It's something we all suffer and yes, most people do like to think they are being original when they are not. Even people who are well read can't read every novel ever written. I saw a teen the other day going on about how the Hunger Games was so successful because it was a unique, new idea. She'd obvious never heard of Battle Royale.

    I don't think writing is about the idea, or at least, not all about the idea. It's about the skill. I've seen a painting of a field by two different painters in my art class. Same field. Same time of day. But they both looked different. One had focused on the trees and the colour of the leaves. The other had zoomed into the flowers and added bees and butterflies. You'll put your own spin on it.
     
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  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Well, I made so many changes from the original, it's not even the same story at all. Not even close, really. It's sort of amazing how we can do that. It's a better story. And I don't think this one has happened.
     
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  8. InsaneXade

    InsaneXade Member

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    I once watched two scenes of vampire hunter D and created a whole novella inspired by it. It was never published but I thought I was pretty clever by having David's pregnant mother be bitten by a vampire, which made him half a vampire. Years later I watched Blade and realized that was his story, except his vampire "father" lived to tell the tale and Blade was not a vegetarian like David was. There was a lot of other differences but those similarities gave me quite a lot to think about. I realized with a jolt that my idea was not original and started watching movies that resemble my books just to make sure they were not identical.

    When I revisited my old webcomic and turned the protagonist cop into a girl to spice it up some and had a fox/wolf partner, my friend said it sounded like the just released Zootopia. I immediately watched it a few times, studying it to make sure that my idea did not mirror the famous movie. The only thing that resembled Zootopia was the girl bunny cop and her fox/wolf, folf, partner. They were colored differently, did not resemble the style, since I prefer more human forms in my anthro characters, and the situations were totally different. Also, Alex was a treasure hunter in her free time while Judy Hopps was not. Alex also from a humble rich family while Hopps was not. Cory, her partner, was not a crafty law skating fox like Nick but more of a victim of a couple of drug and gambling addicted parents.

    So, there were vast differences, however, had they basically mirrored each other I would have rewrote mine to be far different than Blaze and Zootopia.

    Sometimes I think every idea exists in a common pool and each one of us goes "fishing" when we get an idea. Sometimes the ideas between some people are nearly the same, other times they are similar enough to just resemble each other and still other times the people have the same basic idea but go in totally different directions with it because each one of us is unique.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm still not ready to accept that everything has been done before even with my recent issue of accidentally writing something almost exactly like something else. When changing my story I took it to places where I'm pretty sure it's at least more original. F- that. It's totally original now. I pushed reality and myself and played with the unexpected. What would never happen in this situation? How can I make what would never happen work? What if my MC felt the opposite way about a situation like this? What would be going on to make my MC feel the complete opposite way. And what if the situation was different? A different setup from the start. Different results. All this led to a different story. And how to I keep that story from being predictable? Add some weirdness, some absurd, some twists and turns. My story still has a pretty somber tone like it did when I first wrote it, but it has become a more complex little story. The characters are more developed. The plot is less streamlined. It's a little out there. But I feel like I've done something quite original at this point. I put everything I could into making this one nothing like the already-done twin sister it once had.

    We can say it's all been done before, but, I think, that should be a challenge to writers. I've written so many short stories. None of them are the same and this is the first time I've ever encountered something like this. Inspiration is there for the taking. If it comes from something in real life or has been done before, don't do it better. Do it so it's nothing like it. The traces of inspiration can vanish if we really commit to making something out own.

    It's all been done before seems more like an excuse not to try our hardest to create things that haven't been done. Mostly, my inspiration from reading comes from the style of the writing or the boundaries in which a story pushes. Sometimes I feel like I want to write something like that, but I want it to be nothing like that. It's more work, but it produces better work, in my opinion.

    Being original or striving to be is not an ego thing as someone mentioned. It's that I'm a writer and my job is to tell new stories. Originality is part of the art, as I see it.

    Thanks to everyone who commented. I was quite devastated by this at first, but now things are in a different place. I needed to write that story to be able to change everything about it. This and another thread I started about this story when I felt stuck really helped so much.
     
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  10. InsaneXade

    InsaneXade Member

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    You're very welcome. Quite often I find myself inspired by the real world, a song, a commercial, a movie, another book or even a video game. I once wrote a book very loosely based of final fantasy 7, my current favorite that I fought like heck to get a working copy of each disk by scanning it with a laptop. Sadly, my cousin stole it right out of the box.

    Anyhow, the only thing I really took from FF7 was the corrupt corporation stealing from the planet's energy. But instead of making magic gems, monsters and infusing solders with an alien being's essence, the corporation made magic orbs and the cities themselves floated around following the lifelines of the planet to power said cities with all modern comforts.

    So, allow those creative juices to flow! If your work resembles something else by accident then change it! The new version will always turn out better than the old. Every rewrite I ever did improved the original. Never ever fear going back and changing everything. Ideas come from wherever they do, others can easily have an idea similar to yours. Just change it and make your tale worthy to be placed upon the bookshelf of life.
     
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