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Inspiration Vs. Originality


Superpride

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Hey, everyone!  A topic that has been in my mind for a long time was the idea of a story being inspired by other works to developing a story completely from scratch that makes it original.  I have been thinking about this because this has been a main conflict of mine as I write my story called Charming, which is inspired by popular European fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel to name a few.  In Charming, the stories are given twists that make them adapted to the modern world if that makes sense.  For example, Velvet, inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood, visits her grandmother who lives at a poor, almost desolate neighborhood in the city rather than in the middle of the woods, and Violet, inspired by Rapunzel, often occupies a penthouse on the top floor of the tallest skyscraper of the city rather than a tower in the woods as well.  Both characters will also have important roles in the story rather just being the damsel in distress or the girl who gets eaten by a wolf in the end.  I do not want to simply retell these stories with the only difference being the characters' names and setting.  However, I often feel that this story in particular is not original enough for me to continue it since it's possible that these fairy tales could become irrelevant in the future, the foundation that is the fairy tales could erode and collapse the rest of the story because it is not original enough to be read without using some sort of outside reference.  That is mainly why I am only using very well-known fairy tales that everyone from children to adults should know, at least in America, but I know that not everyone in the world knows these fairy tales, and the story's significance could get lost by those readers.

 

I understand that every story takes some inspiration from other works, but when does inspiration turn into plagiarism, and how does someone write a story that is original enough that it does not require some outside research to fully understand the work?

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I wouldn’t worry too much. These stories are pretty universally known (and have already withstood the test of time.) And it’s been done with success before—look at “Wicked” or “Once Upon a Time” or even “Shrek.”

 

You just have to make sure the work is entertaining and accessible enough to transcend the inspiration. Because Rapunzel in a penthouse isn’t a story; it’s a setup. The story, like any story, ultimately needs to be about characterization, plot, and all that other good stuff. What you write needs to be able to stand on its own and justify its existence, just like anything 100% original.

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23 minutes ago, oat327 said:

I wouldn’t worry too much. These stories are pretty universally known (and have already withstood the test of time.) And it’s been done with success before—look at “Wicked” or “Once Upon a Time” or even “Shrek.”

 

You just have to make sure the work is entertaining and accessible enough to transcend the inspiration. Because Rapunzel in a penthouse isn’t a story; it’s a setup. The story, like any story, ultimately needs to be about characterization, plot, and all that other good stuff. What you write needs to be able to stand on its own and justify its existence, just like anything 100% original.

 

I really like how you said that my story needs to transcend or go beyond the inspiration, like the inspiration is the sketches of a house and the story is the house completed that can stand on its own and be resilient to the test of time as well.  I also like how you mentioned Shrek as an example since not only is it a favorite movie of mine, it also is unique by making fun of common fairy tale tropes like the damsel in distress and the Prince Charming.  I hope that my story stands on its own by being twisted into a modern-day setting and provide significant messages to today's discourse like discrimination, differences in political ideologies, etc.

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