Writers-- Are we all just a bunch of thieves?

Oct 29, 2010

There is some debate in the world over whether there are truly any unique stories anymore. People talk about things like the seven basic plots, and how all of us writers just recycle and steal from each other. And really? Who am I to say otherwise? After all, I did steal my idea for Devolutionaries from an episode of Fringe.


BUT. Who says that throws originality out the window? Maybe most stories really do follow the seven basic plots, but that doesn't mean we're all writing the exact same story. Even if twelve of us had one idea, we'd come up with twelve different stories with different characters, settings, themes, and probably even genres.

Besides, Shakespeare himself stole his ideas from other writers. And if the Bard can do it, I'd say that sort of gives the rest of us permission.

So, my friends, now I'm curious. Where have you "stolen" your writing ideas from?

And now, just for fun, here's the Reduced Shakespeare Company's hilarious take on Shakespeare's theivery in his comedies.


13 comments:

Sharde(Shar-day) said...

I work in a nursing home with a lot, A LOT, of extremely senior citizens. Between applying denture cream and serving Ensure milkshakes, they tell me things so off the wall that I can't help but try to make sense of it. In the process, a story emerges.

Sharde

Emy Shin said...

Yes, exactly! There are very few -- or none, really -- "original" ideas left in the world, yet readers still buy books, still read them, still enjoy them because each writer gives a basic plot their own unique spin.

The idea for my current WiP is "stolen" from THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL and SHERLOCK HOLMES.

JEFritz said...

I agree. That's why I never liked that "seven basic plots" nonsense. It's the details that makes things different, if not necessarily better. Two people who write the same basic plot are still going to come out with two different stories.

M Pax said...

Usually in conversations with other people. My dad likes to come up with stuff a lot. I take little bits from different places and mix them with a healthy dose of me. :D

Melissa said...

I took bits and pieces of ideas for my current WiP from Stargate (the tv series).

Melissa said...

I'm influenced by EVERYTHING! Every book I read, conversations with people - my own life! I steal from my own life more than anything else.

Love the video.

lettucehead said...

That's like saying music lacks originality. Of course, a lot may be similar and inspired from, but there will always be uniqueness in that pile of creativity.

Quinn said...

I stole a superpower from HEROES -- just one though. It was just too good a power to pass up.

The Golden Eagle said...

I steal from almost everything around me. There's so much information and inspiration out there--I think being original in a world where it seems like almost everything's been done before has to do with making the pieces fit different from everyone else; creating a world, that, while containing elements from other things, is unique in its overall form.

Bess Weatherby said...

Hi Shalee! Thanks for following, and the sweet comment! I love your blog -- my book is also dystopian. Seems like a lot of us are writing those these days. But we're not thieves, right? Just . . . on the same brainwave.

I'm borrowing pretty heavily from "Gossip Girl." Not for plot or characters or writing, but for overall style. My characters are from a political elite, but I was having a hard time writing that entitled mindset, so I buried myself in Season 1 and came out feeling like I could write snob. Unfortunately hooked now. Oh well . . . Chuck Bass is my new favorite.

Milo James Fowler said...

Here's what drives me crazy: I come up with what I think is an original idea and spend thousands of words developing it, only to have something similar show up on FRINGE or in a genre novel. Me, a thief? Nay. But I sometimes wonder who's looking over my shoulder as I type away...

mshatch said...

what a great post! I'm currently stealing stuff from The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy, Culpeper's Complete Herbal, and Dr. Johnson's London.

Stephanie said...

I agree...there really aren't any totally unique ideas anymore, but it's the way we tell it that makes it unique and makes people want to find out what we did to make it different and interesting.

 
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