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How much of your story is "original"?

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ChaseJxyz

Writes birds and bird accessories
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Man it's been 2 months since I posted this thread and this really isn't much of an issue for me anymore lol. I think what happened is that I decided to openly accept my deranged ideas, because even if they're clearly inspired from X, my own brain (and the medium I'm using) is so different from X that it's still incredibly unique. Twin Peaks, for example, is a very weird, unique TV show, because David Lynch. But Deadly Premonition, a video game by SWERY65, is very clearly based on Twin Peaks, but it hits different since you CAN choose to fish all day, or not follow leads, or shoot bird nests to find human bones that are probably not related to the murdered high school prom queen, but you should probably tell someone about it, anyways.

The director/writer/head creative guy of [thing] that is such a big inspiration for [my thing] actually announced a new IP today, in the same genre of [my thing], and my first thought was "oh no what if he ends up using the same mechanic as [my thing]" and my second was "you know what I wouldn't even be mad, because we would each execute it in completely different ways, and also it would be kind of validating since he'd think that's a really good idea, too."

But also a lot of my inspiration in writing is from...not books. I don't know if people who mostly consume books and get most of their inspo from books have a different experience than me.
 
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Nether

is not a Supervillain
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Short answer: I don't know.

Long answer:
I still don't entirely know, and it's absurdly complicated.

Since November 2020, I've written the first drafts for 9 novels and I'm working on my 10th, which is in addition to haven written multiple short stories. My idea process for these works varies tremendous. Sometimes I see an idea I like and it either very loosely influences something I do, or it winds up jumbled together with a dozen other ideas. (And in the case of the first horror manuscript I drafted, it was simply a matter of "I want to write a horror novel" and I just gradually pulled things together.)

The first fantasy manuscript I drafted had maybe five to ten direct inspirations and influences (many of which I would have to explain to people who have seen those things), but not one of them was picked up by a person who read the story. Instead, one person cited something else where, after they mentioned it, I was like, "Yeah, I can kinda see it," and it was something I watched so it's *possible* that it might have been an influence even though the other inspirations/influences cover that same element.

The first manuscript I drafted underwent multiple permutations of ideas where it started off as a high fantasy detective series that mashed maybe five things together, but -- by the time I wrote it -- I'd enjoyed two or three other things, so the setting, characters, and everything except some key plot points changed. On a conceptual level, the book and series are going to be derivative of a dozen different things, but that's mostly unintentional (with the exception of something I'm going to brazenly rip off later on because it's in the public domain)

However, this year's NaNo novel -- Sometimes the Moon Howls Back (or Werewolf Waltz, depending on what I decide to push it as) -- is a work where I struggle to think what inspired it, other than just the general concept of werewolf movies. I think The Howling series might come the closest, in that it covers a sense of community between werewolves and some of the films show them trying to be like everybody else -- and, to that same extent, Being Human might also a comp. I'm not sure if I've seen the main gimmick used somewhere else, but I imagine I probably have and forgot it.

The new WIP is based on idea I had years ago where, again, I'm not sure if it's directly inspired by any fiction although it has a lot of elements that I know for a fact have appeared in fiction, and that includes things I've watched (albeit many of the concepts are absurdly generic).

But sometimes it's murkier. I have a 1k~ word short story where several of the concepts are within the same ballpark of a critique partner's manuscript -- again, nothing intentional, but part of the concept feels a little thematically similar. And none of that occurred to me until I debated asking my critique partner to look it over (which I finally didn't, because I was late returning their chapter and thought asking for a favor on short notice would be a jerk move).

Anyway, I'm generally comfortable with the idea that I at least sometimes take inspiration or influences from other works. In some cases, it's even a matter of "I want to do something like this!" although, humorously, my take might need a nod or two for people to figure out the inspiration. In that way, there's the odd paradox where my projects inspired by other fiction might look original whereas my projects without an overt inspiration (from a work of fiction, anyway) might look derivative.

I try not to overthink it. Everything has to come from somewhere, and most things have been done in some form or another.
 

llyralen

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1) Historical fiction A is based on a legend/saga and deviates from the legend to use some history and archeology.
2) Historical fiction B uses real events to tell a story of what I have dealt with/felt. I have to give huge kudos to the researchers of this culture who have gone before me.
3) Is a story based on a dream I had when I was 20, but the setting is based on a real life place, I also describe real events and I'm grateful for the people who wrote down their experiences so that I could be inspired.
 
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neandermagnon

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Once when I was a kid I tried to imagine a room in a house that I'd never seen before, that didn't contain any bits of any rooms I had seen before... I couldn't do it. I could visualise all kinds of rooms, but they all contained components of rooms I'd seen somewhere else. However, rehashing together bits of what you already know is creativity. I've never seen a suburban semi full of the kind of antique, overly fussy furniture you'd expect to find in a stately home - yet juxtapose them and you have an unusual thing that begs questions like "who'd decorate their house like that and why?" and you have the basis of a character forming. Creativity works by rehashing stuff together like this.
 
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Harlequin

Eat books, not brains!
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I don't know how to answer this, either.

Originality is a bit of an overrated concept in some ways. Everything is influenced by something and it is conceptually impossible to think of an idea you haven't encountered in some form. Eg you can think of a new monster but it's still a creature. Realistically it so defined by its differences to known versions and is a variation more than anything.
 
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Elizabeth George's book Write Away