Monday, September 28, 2009

Stealing Plots

Do you work hard to make sure the plot of your WIP doesn't copy another story? If so, it's a losing battle. There are not that many plots, and truly unique ones are almost impossible to come by.

There are resources that list all of the different types of plots, and frankly there aren't that many.

Does that mean you should avoid copying the plot of another story? I think it depends.

If it is a very recognizable story, e.g. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc. and you copy it too closely, you have a problem. By copying, I mean using the same plot and the same characters. For instance, if all you did was rename the characters, that's not going to work.

However, if your plot is similar, you have different and unique characters, and the characters took the story along a slightly different path, then it's a different story. Add to that your unique style of telling the story, and you have a unique, and hopefully interesting story.

The danger is not making the story different enough so that it becomes too predictable, or making it too outlandish, so that it no longer works within the realm of the plot and your characters.

That's the fine line we writers walk. We try to write stories that seem fresh, yet work to keep them within the realm of believability, and entertainment. It's not easy, or everyone would do it.


  1. Tell me about it. I just found a major plot hole in my baby and have a lot of thinking to do.

    Lynnette Labelle

  2. That's a good reminder to try and make your work as original as possible.

  3. I love that this is a post today because I just posted a blog about the new movie, Gentlemen Broncos, which follows along these lines. I hope the whole movie is as hilarious as the trailer.

  4. I know exactly what you're saying.

    I wanted to write this story. I called it "modern retro." It's a family from the Stone age, but they invent all the devices we have now without modern technology. They use things like birds and lizards for this technology, so a phone is just a bird talking through a pipe or something. Text messages are carried by pigeon. They would fight dinosaurs while trying to hold down jobs in tech support (although I call it Talc Support). They eat Slow Food (cause it's the Stone Age) and "Goggle" their searches using some kind of eyepiece with ants that spell out their answers.

    Then someone YouTubed me a video of "The Flintstones." Dammit.


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