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  1. #1

    Ripping stuff off...

    So, question for all you writers...

    But first! A little background: I don't write. My writing ability is substantially better than my drawing ability, and since the latter is non-existent, well, zero times anything is still zero.

    Don't get me wrong, I *have* tried, and have one piece that I'm proud of. And I have started to write other things - but I always end up with the same problem.

    After I spent some time on my story, I'll go back and reread what I wrote. When I do this, I notice that too many ideas, or situations, or scenes remind me of other (published) works. And for some reason, that bothers me enough to stop working on it.

    So.. I'm curious to hear thoughts.. have you run into this? If so, how much is 'too much'? How do you prevent it - if you do?

    I may be (read: am) over-analyzing my own writing, too. However, I don't like ripping other works off and using it.

  2. #2
    This can apply to art, products, games, movies, and almost anything really. I've even had people poke me to something before that I had never seen nor heard of before, but it had startlingly similar attributes. It's hard to be truly original, it really is x'D I wouldn't beat yourself up about it!

  3. #3
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    Pretty much what's already been said. Just take it as a compliment. Great minds think alike after all. Someone likened my plot that I'm trying to do to Neil Gaiman's American Gods

    Be proud that your mental process is on the same wavelength as published authors :3
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  4. #4
    Senior Tybby's Avatar
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    well I mean we live in the post modern era, you're allowed to be pretty derivative

    just be sure that you're adding to another person's ideas, and not just restating them. I'm generally more comfortable with a work when it takes inspiration from multiple other works. Not only then am I making my own unique additions to other people's ideas, but there is also a level in artistry in arranging those two concepts together

  5. #5
    Interesting thoughts and obvservations -

    Let me ask this then you ya'll (everyone) - IF you've ever had something like that pointed out, OR you noticed it yourself, do you go back and try to change it, or do you go, 'Nah, that's it!'?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Qui View Post
    If I find any little stain besmirching my work, I set my entire laptop on fire because everything I do must be perfect, perfect!, PERFECT!!!
    DECAF, man.. DECAF! Whew!

    I personally take criticism very well (so I believe, anyways!). I am actually very, ver tough on myself - one of the reasons I never finish something; by the time I get halfway through it, it's not 'what I envisioned', and it's difficult for me to go forward OR back on it.

    But honestly, that's not my .. uhm.. point here, I guess. I'm more worried about someone reading something I wrote, and going, "Ah, that was taken from /Story A/, and this was from /Story B/".. Whether I meant to or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Qui View Post
    But this doesn't make me a good author, it makes me a terrible fool. I guess what mature people would do is consider whether it looks like the finished work is just a cheap rip-off, or simply that there are some coincidental similarities. I think Tibby up there had a point: if the similarities you talk about are with multiple different works, you're probably on the safe side.
    Kosher. Then I will take that as advice. (Good or bad, we'll see.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Qui View Post
    btw, could you publish the text that's troubling you already? All this suspense is making me terribly curious 8)
    I actually don't have a piece that falls under this category! I was thinking of writing something that had some situations that I enjoy writing/imagining/thinking about, and it's been touched on in at least two other items already and was worried about that before I start.

    To this date, I have *one* thing I have written - and finished! - that I'm personally proud of. And, oddly, as far as I know, it doesn't 'borrow' any scenes from anything. (Maybe I will post it - just to see if anyone can go, 'Hey, yup, that was used in XXX by George!'.

    In fact, now that you remind me, I'm going to start another thread, which DID come up while I was writing that bit.

    ..yes, as you can tell, I'm new at writing.

  7. #7
    Senior Damian's Avatar
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    Personally, I wouldn't really change anything. One of my stories is going to be based off of a story from the Bible so of course I WILL state that's where I got the ideas in some sort of author's note if I ever get lucky enough to have it published.

    Though, for any others, people are going to make up every excuse to say you copied. I remember J.K Rowling was threatened a suit because someone said she copied their idea about wizards traveling to their school by train or something.
    We all have our demons. If we're not fighting them, then we've befriended them.

  8. #8
    Junior Abbi Normal's Avatar
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    Well, they say there's noting new under the sun.

    People compare some aspects of my work to things they saw on Anime sometimes. I never know what to say to that, because I'm not even into anime. I've seen virtually none of it unless you count, like, Pokemon waaaay back in the day. What I have seen were light comedy series with a very western-like sense of humour, like Excel Saga, Azumanga Daio, and Panty and Stocking or High School of the Dead. In fact, I think that about covers it. Everyone said I'd like Lucky Star because I liked Excel and everyone who liked Excel will like Lucky Star, but I hate it. I didn't get past the first episode or two. I just couldn't stand listening to 5th graders talk about how they eat snack foods I've never heard of.

    But that's neither here nor there. Point is, you just be as original as you can in arranging and juxtaposing the existing tropes, structures, and ideas you use, and it's in the collage and context that the authenticity resides. Creativity is knowing what you like, why you like it, then disassembling it for parts. Bricks for your Lego kit. Here's a list of 25 quotes on this subject by accomplished people in all fields, from Brian Eno and Bob Dylan, to Igor Strovinsky, to Carl Jung, to William S. Burroughs. The most famous being "All art is theft", said by Pablo Picasso.

  9. #9
    Senior catwithpen's Avatar
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    "if the similarities you talk about are with multiple different works, you're probably on the safe side."

    ^This. There are many different books and movies that use the idea of travel between alternate dimensions. So if you write a story that has travel between dimensions, that's fine. However, if you make the gateway a wardrobe, people are going to say you ripped off Narnia. Re-using broad ideas is fine; every writer does that. It only becomes a problem if you take something really specific that is clearly an idea belonging to a specific series.

    Ther are also exceptions to that rule. Shakespeare took other people's stories, changed the time period to his own time period, and turned them into plays. And he became famous and loved because he re-told those stories really well. So "how you tell it" is often more important than originality. These days we call that an adaptation, and you can only do it with stories that are not under copyright (myths, fairytales, etc.) or with stories where you have the permission of the author.

    But for the most part, the golded rule is: check if your idea appears in many books, or if it's a really specific thing only found in one book/series.

  10. #10
    Don't worry about the premise, so much as the execution. A premise or an archetype, or a bit or a bob are just the pieces, it's how you arrange them that matter.

 

 

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