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How do you ride the line between inspiration and intimidation?

BearBear

Archmage
When reading or watching an especially well done production, it can be inspirational to my own work. However, it can also make my own work seem trite and childish or ameture.

Does this happen to you? Any specific examples and how you overcame them?
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
I draw inspiration from a great many sources, including other novels. These then become 'what if' situations for my own work - how would my characters react to this situation?

Intimidation? That happens but rarely anymore. What does happen with depressing frequency though are novels - usually indie works - that have such poor worldbuilding or plots or are so badly written that it makes me conclude my writing is good by comparison.
 

Queshire

Auror
Logic.

You're intimately aware of your own work so its flaws stand out in sharp contrast while the media you have consumed has inevitably undergone several rounds of refinement and editing that your own work is either presumably in the middle of or has yet to reach.

EDIT: Though it helps that my modus operandi is to see how many things I can stick in one pot and have it still work so my first instinct is to simply yoink whatever cool thing I see.
 
Aren’t most creative outlets derivative these days anyway? We live in a postmodern world, where originality probably isn’t very attainable. I love being inspired by others creativity, be it books, films/series, art etc.

On the subject of intimidation, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that, but my work is probably amateurish because I am an amateur, so I’m okay with that.

A good thread topic would be discussing inspiration from films or series though!
 

BearBear

Archmage
What does happen with depressing frequency though are novels - usually indie works - that have such poor worldbuilding or plots or are so badly written that it makes me conclude my writing is good by comparison.

This was interesting to hear. I used to read indie almost exclusively because it can go places mainstream would never go and because anything goes you can experience scenarios that are so troubling or taboo that you couldn't fathom them. Though there are exceptions,

Stephen king likes to kill his characters and though that's not unique, for me he can do it in a way I didn't expect and didn't want and it is really disturbing. Something that George R.R. Martin did, but pointlessly in my opinion. I can respect Stephen King in that it's his intent it seems to make you feel appalled and disgusted, while Georgie didn't do that for me, he just made me feel like I was wasting my time getting invested in any of his characters.

So the point is, I loved the surprise and genuine anticipation that anything might happen, and I mean anything but the writing was generally barely readable. I would catagorize them from 1 to 5 stars and would happily read 2.5 star stuff, 2 star stuff writing would sometimes cause me to stop reading. So eventually it was hard to find 2.5+ stuff and I was like, "is everyone bad now?" But then re-reading my old favorites led me to understand that it wasn't the works that were getting worse, it was my tolerance for bad works. Then I found myself editing other's 4 star stuff and re-writing endings to my liking. That's when the bug bit me. Then I knew I could write stuff to my liking and never ran out again.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
What I dislike most is seeing an idea I used in a story show up somewhere else. Always makes me go DOH!, and Crap, and now I have to change that.

I have sometimes felt inspired, but not often intimidated (maybe once in a while). A lot of stuff gives me hope, cause its bad. 'If a story like that can make the best seller list or hit the big screen, then I should be able to as well'. I also sometimes read stuff and feel...Oh, I would like to capture that type of thing as well, but I cant get it all in. Some stuff has to be left behind.

What vexes me the most is errors my brain skips over. I hate when another reads my work and says, 'You missed a word', and I am like 'WTF? I read that part a thousand times. How could it still be missing a word'. Grrrrr.....

I am intimidated when I see the number of people putting out work, and the number of them that are good quality but still cant get sales and punch through. That makes me wonder what I am getting myself into.
 

Demesnedenoir

Myth Weaver
Movie production—in a sense—should make you feel like an amateur, not because you are an amateur but because you are an individual and these productions are created by teams of people creating something in a medium that isn't a novel. The irony of this is that most movies are crap exactly because of this potential strength, heh heh. When studying screenwriting and watching hundreds of movies, I noticed a trend: the number of screenwriting credits above 2 increased the odds of it being a shit flick. Above 4 and it was pretty much a lock. Most movies are so simple and derivative, however, that quality tends to come down to direction and production as much as story.

Novels... I can't say I ever read a book I was intimidated by. This might come down to a psychological exploration of various personality types, but i just don't roll that way in anything... except sports... a hundred mile an hour fastball would intimidate the hell out of me, heh heh. Tyson in his prime in the ring? Eeeyah, no thanks. Words on a page? Not so much. LOL.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
Movie production—in a sense—should make you feel like an amateur, not because you are an amateur but because you are an individual and these productions are created by teams of people creating something in a medium that isn't a novel. The irony of this is that most movies are crap exactly because of this potential strength, heh heh. When studying screenwriting and watching hundreds of movies, I noticed a trend: the number of screenwriting credits above 2 increased the odds of it being a shit flick. Above 4 and it was pretty much a lock. Most movies are so simple and derivative, however, that quality tends to come down to direction and production as much as story.
I gonna look for that with the writers. I will add, I do think it should, but so often does not, and that says more about them than me, I think.
 

Demesnedenoir

Myth Weaver
There are caveats, like writings teams like Rossio & Elliot, but it was actually from those fellows that I got a couple of nuggets and started piecing some movie clues together. This duo wrote the original screenplay for one of the Godzilla flops, the one with Mathew Broderick I think. They sold the idea and script and had a director attached that they liked, THEN that director left for another project. THEN another director didn't like their script. Then that director left or something and yet another took over. I might be exaggerating, it's been too long to recall the whole tale accurately, but long story short it seems like their names didn't even make the credits and they were happy as hell they didn't because the project was garbage by the time it hit screens. I don't recall how many writer names were on it, but more fingers were in that pie than made the credits.

Another giveaway to a crap movie is (often) the run time. All movies shoot for something close to two hours, 1:45-2:00, although there are exceptions in particular with animated features. So, basically speaking, if you see a film with a run time sub 1:30 you can pretty much guarantee that a whole lot of the movie was left lying on the cutting room floor after screenings and audience tests shredded it. Comedies are often the victim here.

I gonna look for that with the writers. I will add, I do think it should, but so often does not, and that says more about them than me, I think.
 

Demesnedenoir

Myth Weaver
Both of those points can be unnerving, but I'm too stupid to let the facts stand in my way, heh heh. Maybe I shoulda went into politics.

I am intimidated when I see the number of people putting out work, and the number of them that are good quality but still cant get sales and punch through. That makes me wonder what I am getting myself into.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
They sold the idea and script and had a director attached that they liked, THEN that director left for another project. THEN another director didn't like their script. Then that director left or something and yet another took over.
Sounds like Star Wars ;) and Justice League too.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
But the Snyder cut is out... Still have not seen that cause they keep wanting to charge me full price. When it drops to $5.00, I'll make my own call on it.
 
I'll just assume we're talking about inspiration and imitation, not intimidation.

There are 2 ways to look at it.

First, the bad news. You probably are an amateur. I don't mean that in a negative way. I know I am one, and most people on this board are. It's just a statement of fact. The best way to explain what this means is with a music analogy. When you hear two people playing the piano, then you can pretty much immediately tell which of those 2 people is the professional pianist who plays full time in a symphonic orchestra, and someone who has played several years and is an enthousiastic amateur. The difference is even bigger between the professional, and the person who started playing a few years ago and practises a few hours a week just for fun.

Note, one way of enjoying the piano isn't better than the other. They are just different.

But the same goes for writing. They're actually very similar activities. You need practise to get better. A lot of it. The reason Stephen King is such a master at his craft is because he has been writing his whole life, and has been improving that whole time. And there is nothing wrong with imitating others in the beginning, as you develop your own style. Just as with music you don't start with composing your own music, but rather you start by playing what others have created. The same goes for writing. You start by using ideas and structures and characters and tropes others have built, and as you master the craft, you start becoming more original.

It's actually good practice to try to write as a few different writers. It teaches you how to set a scene, build a conversation, and so on. Now, you can't sell something that is a clone of another writer. Don't try it. But that's not the aim here.

The other way to look at it, is how to use stories that inspire you in your own writing. Note, this is if you want to write commercial fiction. If you're just writing for your own enjoyment, you can plagiarise all you want. Just don't try to sell it. But if you want to use another story as inspiration, then analyse the story, and find what it is that inspires you. When you've found that, use that to build your own story.

This can be things like story structure, types of characters, settings, or character arcs. For instance, you're inspired by Ocean's 11. Analyzing it, you realize it's the heist type of story structure that inspires you. A group of characters set out to steal something, they form a plan, it goes wrong, but they piece together their bits of preparation and save the day. Once you have this you can use that in your own story, and when you do, you end up with Mistborn.

Look at inspiration in this light. Find what it is that inspires you, and use that in your own story.
 

Arielcat

Minstrel
I used to try to write like other writers, on purpose, when I was about eleven years old.
I think I've been writing long enough to have developed my own style (or possibly, styles) by now. 🤔
(Or stylus. ✍️)
I'm not a professional, because I don't get paid.
"Amateur" also can mean, we're in this for love, not money.
I have said "amateur and proud of it" about my involvement with and my time spent in the theater arts before. 🎭
I'll just assume we're talking about inspiration and imitation, not intimidation.

There are 2 ways to look at it.

First, the bad news. You probably are an amateur. I don't mean that in a negative way. I know I am one, and most people on this board are. It's just a statement of fact. The best way to explain what this means is with a music analogy. When you hear two people playing the piano, then you can pretty much immediately tell which of those 2 people is the professional pianist who plays full time in a symphonic orchestra, and someone who has played several years and is an enthousiastic amateur. The difference is even bigger between the professional, and the person who started playing a few years ago and practises a few hours a week just for fun.

Note, one way of enjoying the piano isn't better than the other. They are just different.

But the same goes for writing. They're actually very similar activities. You need practise to get better. A lot of it. The reason Stephen King is such a master at his craft is because he has been writing his whole life, and has been improving that whole time. And there is nothing wrong with imitating others in the beginning, as you develop your own style. Just as with music you don't start with composing your own music, but rather you start by playing what others have created. The same goes for writing. You start by using ideas and structures and characters and tropes others have built, and as you master the craft, you start becoming more original.

It's actually good practice to try to write as a few different writers. It teaches you how to set a scene, build a conversation, and so on. Now, you can't sell something that is a clone of another writer. Don't try it. But that's not the aim here.

The other way to look at it, is how to use stories that inspire you in your own writing. Note, this is if you want to write commercial fiction. If you're just writing for your own enjoyment, you can plagiarise all you want. Just don't try to sell it. But if you want to use another story as inspiration, then analyse the story, and find what it is that inspires you. When you've found that, use that to build your own story.

This can be things like story structure, types of characters, settings, or character arcs. For instance, you're inspired by Ocean's 11. Analyzing it, you realize it's the heist type of story structure that inspires you. A group of characters set out to steal something, they form a plan, it goes wrong, but they piece together their bits of preparation and save the day. Once you have this you can use that in your own story, and when you do, you end up with Mistborn.

Look at inspiration in this light. Find what it is that inspires you, and use that in your own story.
 

Arielcat

Minstrel
I'll just assume we're talking about inspiration and imitation, not intimidation.

There are 2 ways to look at it.

First, the bad news. You probably are an amateur. I don't mean that in a negative way. I know I am one, and most people on this board are. It's just a statement of fact. The best way to explain what this means is with a music analogy. When you hear two people playing the piano, then you can pretty much immediately tell which of those 2 people is the professional pianist who plays full time in a symphonic orchestra, and someone who has played several years and is an enthousiastic amateur. The difference is even bigger between the professional, and the person who started playing a few years ago and practises a few hours a week just for fun.

Note, one way of enjoying the piano isn't better than the other. They are just different.

But the same goes for writing. They're actually very similar activities. You need practise to get better. A lot of it. The reason Stephen King is such a master at his craft is because he has been writing his whole life, and has been improving that whole time. And there is nothing wrong with imitating others in the beginning, as you develop your own style. Just as with music you don't start with composing your own music, but rather you start by playing what others have created. The same goes for writing. You start by using ideas and structures and characters and tropes others have built, and as you master the craft, you start becoming more original.

It's actually good practice to try to write as a few different writers. It teaches you how to set a scene, build a conversation, and so on. Now, you can't sell something that is a clone of another writer. Don't try it. But that's not the aim here.

The other way to look at it, is how to use stories that inspire you in your own writing. Note, this is if you want to write commercial fiction. If you're just writing for your own enjoyment, you can plagiarise all you want. Just don't try to sell it. But if you want to use another story as inspiration, then analyse the story, and find what it is that inspires you. When you've found that, use that to build your own story.

This can be things like story structure, types of characters, settings, or character arcs. For instance, you're inspired by Ocean's 11. Analyzing it, you realize it's the heist type of story structure that inspires you. A group of characters set out to steal something, they form a plan, it goes wrong, but they piece together their bits of preparation and save the day. Once you have this you can use that in your own story, and when you do, you end up with Mistborn.

Look at inspiration in this light. Find what it is that inspires you, and use that in your own story.
It's typically the beginners who deliberately copy.
Or, who accidentally copy all the time, whether they plan to or mean to or want to or try to, or not.
However, any work can be inspired or partially inspired by other works.
Usually not just one and usually especially or primarily ones which are not copyrighted or whose copyright has long since expired.
 

Arielcat

Minstrel
Beginner and amateur aren't the same thing.
Amateur has many meanings.
Some amateurs are actually more skilled and more creatively talented than some professionals.
It just depends.
 

Arielcat

Minstrel
Both of those points can be unnerving, but I'm too stupid to let the facts stand in my way, heh heh. Maybe I shoulda went into politics.
And the number of them that are terrible quality but for some unknown reason are bestselling anyway. 🤔
Or lack of reason (as in common sense/good sense/etc., apparently on the part of the audience).
 
Until you're making your living from writing you're an amateur. That's nothing to be ashamed of - I've made nearly $50k since 2010 but you can't live on that. I'm therefore an amateur.

But intimidation? Really?

The way I see it... writing is the best way I know of baring your soul, short of walking naked down the high street at noon on a Sunday. If you don't have the confidence to deal with that reality then you're in the wrong business.

Yes, I am a hard and difficult man and probably not worth knowing.
 
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