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What Do You When...

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Griffin, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Griffin

    Griffin Minstrel

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    What do you when you realize that your story has already been done? I am not talking about being original or anything. We all know the case on that. I'm talking about when you come up with a story idea and you indulge an unlucky victim your idea. They inform you that your idea "sounds just like [insert movie/book/videogame]."

    I thought about pulling a twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was going to be dark and twisted. Turns out, a PC game already exists called "American McGee's Alice" that has a very similar plotline. I scrapped that original idea and created a new one. Still Alice in Wonderland, but just a different storyline.

    But what would you do? Would you just drop your story and move on? Change it up? Or keep it and push it forward?
     
  2. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    I haven't come across that problem. Lucky I guess.

    I suspect there have been an aweful lot of works derived from the original Alice in Wonderland adventures. If you've never seen or played the videogame in question, it is very unlikely it's exactly like it. I'd go ahead and write it. If it's good, your work will find a place.

    How many vampire novels are out there? How many zombie apacalypse novels are out there. How much different are some of them within the same category/sub genre, etc.?

    If I told you the plotline of my novels, and you set out to write a novel similar, without having actually read it, how close do you think it would end up to what I've already written? That's why I said, if you've not played or researched the video game in question--the odds of you writing a mirror image of plot, characters, action and all is pretty darn long, even if both are a darker twist on the original Alice in Wonderland--which has been done several times I can think of already--at least in film.
     
  3. Mythos

    Mythos Troubadour

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    If I was really in love with the story, I would try writing it anyways, just changing it up a little. If I'd barely started thinking of the idea, I would move onto something else.
     
  4. Griffin

    Griffin Minstrel

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    I actually looked up the game in question, read its wikia, and saw some videos posted. It isn't exactly the same. But it's similar to the point that I don't feel 100% comfortable going through with it.

    To be honest, dropping a story does not bother me in the least. I have dozens of stories floating in my head. In addition, I actually like the new plot more. It resembles more of my original idea anyway.
     
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Call it a remix and do it anyway. :)

    By admitting to others and to yourself you're copying something you'll feel better about doing it and as you go along you'll put enough of yourself into it to make it different.
     
  6. Well, it's always good to get a second opinion - sometimes your idea really has been done before and you may not feel capable of adding anything new to it, or don't want to put up with people pointing out the similarities. That's fine. But you also need to know when to believe in your concept.

    Example: I have this project that's about a young girl who finds out she has magic powers and goes to a magic school and has to fight an evil wizard. Literally everyone who hears that sentence goes: "Oh, so it's Harry Potter except about a girl?" And, fair enough, the basic premise is virtually identical, I admit that. But the thing is, the basic premise is basic. It's only a part of the concept - a fundamental part, yes, but the fundament is just what you use to give the actual structure something to stand on. There is also the execution to consider.

    Yes, I know what my wizard school idea sounds like. But I also know that this superficial similarity aside, the book I have in mind really doesn't have much in common with Harry Potter. It's just that explaining exactly how it's not like Harry Potter requires a full synopsis and it's much easier to just sum up the premise.

    Or, here's a thought-experiement, let's say our concept is: "There is a magic ring that turns people evil, and a group of heroes led by a wizard must find a way to destroy it."

    Anyone who hears that will probably go: "Look, I know Tolkien has been dead for a while but that still ain't kosher, man." But if you actually stop and think about it, there has to be at least several hundreds of different ways to tell that story. That simple sentence alone tells you nothing about the nature of the ring or where it came from or who the heroes are or how they go about to destroy it, let alone wether or not elves and orcs get involved at any point. People just instinctively assume that it will be the same thing Tolkien wrote, because for some reason everyone tends to think of the premise as the defining essence that makes the story what it is, as opposed to how the author goes about telling it, which is getting it completely backwards.

    If fantasy writers had just realized this simple fact early on, maybe the fantasy genre would have seen less obvious Tolkien derivatives that ironically have nothing to do with magic rings most of the time.
     
    Chilari likes this.
  7. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    This particular 'Alice' game was actually rather famous. A cult game in the horror scene. It's one of those games you could sell even now. Never played it myself, but I dabble a bit in the sale of old pc games, so I have handled several over the years. I'd say it was shaky ground in this specific case.
     
  8. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    I also believe there's either going to be or already is a second Alice game released.

    But honestly, it's not something to worry about. Like everyone here is saying :)
     
  9. There is. It has been out for a while now, actually.
     
  10. Lorna

    Lorna Inkling

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    I'd go with the story and see where it takes you. There are many different rabbit holes and Wonderland's pretty expansive.
    You never know where you might end up.
     
  11. Akahige

    Akahige Dreamer

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    I think of Robin Hood and King Arthur. How many times have these stories been told and in how many different ways? Even if some of the beats are the same, the presentation varies greatly. As an example, in the realm of movies, the existence of the Errol Flynn Robin Hood doesn't effect my enjoyment of the Kevin Costner one or the Russel Crowe one or even the Mel Brooks one. They're all branches from the same tree, but unique in their own right. A story worth being told is a story worth being retold.
     

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