Monday, June 20, 2011

Copy-catting?

by Kristin Baker Przybyla

Whoops! Almost forgot it was my day today.

So there's this plotting technique I've used a few times, but I worry if it can be considered ripping off another author's plot. Sometimes I'll read a book and find myself disappointed in something--whether it's a villain, the setting, or the overall plot. I'll start thinking of how I'd imagined the book to be when I read the back cover--the hook that drew me in in the first place, but ended up being much different than I'd thought. Many times it works out fine anyway, but other times I like to imagine how I'd have written the story.

Last year I read a very good YA fantasy about a post-apocalyptic world where fairies were the enemy. Trees were vicious in this world; the main character could not imagine a life where one could walk into the forest without branches and roots reaching out to tear the poor victim apart. It was very creepy. In fact, I wasn't disappointed in this plot element at all, but I'd imagined it to be different in some ways. I'd been trying to put together a plot for a steampunk book, and the idea of the dangerous forest stuck in my head. I ended up surrounding my main character's village with fast-growing, sentient trees that attack if you don't use one of the energy-powered safe trails leading into the woods. The forest I came up with isn't similar to the one in the book I read, but is more like what I'd imagined when I started reading it, with a few additional changes to fit the plot of a steampunk dark fantasy.

So is this considered copying? My plot isn't anything like that of the other book. I just took an intriguing idea and wrote it the way I would have imagined it, which ended up being a lot different from the source. What do you guys think?

5 comments:

  1. Stories about maniacal flora and fauna have been around forever. Look at Grimms' fairy tales and Greek mythology. I don't think it's copying. Sound interesting! hugs~

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  2. Is it copying if you see a really dreadful commercial but it triggers a brilliant story? If it's not similar, it's just the starting point for creativity. There's little truly new out there.

    Besides there something fun about a twist on something kinda familiar.

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  3. Well the philosphers tell us there's nothing really new under the sun so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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  4. Not copycatting - finding inspiration.

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  5. I agree--there are no new ideas, just new ways of putting things together. Can't wait to read your steampunk!

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