Originality of Idea

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Ermo
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Originality of Idea

Post by Ermo » March 1st, 2011, 1:49 pm

How do you verify that your idea is somewhat original? I know that pretty much every idea/theme has been tried before (or at least you can assume that) but is there any way to find out if there's any major books/authors out there that has the same general idea?

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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Guardian » March 1st, 2011, 2:15 pm

I usually know this from the feedbacks of my beta readers. Both of my WIPs got the "original" mark in the feedbacks, mostly because I usually try to drop the cliches and I rather use new approaches in every possible situation. When I created these WIPs, I've made a long research for each of them. My primary rule is to avoid cliches (Actually I used to make nice jokes from cliches) and I always try to use original ideas; something what for people never thought before. That doesn't mean they'll be truly original ideas in every possible case, but at least I try.
I know that pretty much every idea/theme has been tried before
Some writer used to say this, because they actually never tried to write original stories or they can't write original stories. So they rather say; every idea has been tried before. But that's not true at all.

But here is a good example for the opposite where the writer dared to dream and took the time to create something new; Nathan's upcoming novel where he is "Breaking the universe.". Who did this before? I believe no one. So, his storyline is already unique and has an original theme. And it's just one sentence from his novel's excerpt and he has plenty other twists, and his work also has an original theme based on the short description.

You can write anything you want, anytime you want. One condition; it has to be amazing. When you create a world never think in a box. Try to think outside the box to make a true difference (This is what some writer never do and they rather say; every idea / theme has been tried before.).
is there any way to find out if there's any major books/authors out there that has the same general idea?
Read a lot, research a lot. Then you'll see. In my opinion the difference between the original storyline / theme and the copy-paste storyline / theme is the invested time and the will to create something new and to make a difference.

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polymath
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by polymath » March 1st, 2011, 2:43 pm

The same general idea and a fresh and original take are two different animals in my book. Or one better than one that's come before or in close proximity to one another are nonetheless two different animals.

For how to tell if an idea is fresh enough or originally reinvented or reimagined enough to fly, there's two ways I know of to determine. One, read everything that's ever been published or at least a diverse representative sampling, not too 'tolerably practical that one, though moi has tried. Two, ask around, more practical, but open to wide and subjective interpretation. Agents and editors are good persons to ask. So are followers of a genre niche.

One storyline I know of which is among the most often revisted is Homer's Odyssey, either revised for contemporary audience updating or with original motifs and circumstances. Homer's Iliad appears in many variant forms too. Many critically and popularly acclaimed classics' ideas are revisted frequently.

I think of idea as related to theme. Humanity and Nature. Humanity and Deities. Humanity and Aliens. Humanity and Humanity. And so on. An inspiration might have a theme at its core. Realizing a theme's conscious and subconscious contributions offer guidance for developing an original take on the inspiration.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Ermo » March 1st, 2011, 2:55 pm

Well, let me ask you this polymath. If you're writing a mystery/thriller, how much does it matter who did it? I feel like every imaginable culprit has been used from the person themselves to a secret society protecting a religious secret.... Isn't it really more about how you get there?

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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by polymath » March 1st, 2011, 3:13 pm

Ermo wrote:Well, let me ask you this polymath. If you're writing a mystery/thriller, how much does it matter who did it? I feel like every imaginable culprit has been used from the person themselves to a secret society protecting a religious secret.... Isn't it really more about how you get there?
One way who done it, the generic dramatic question of mysteries, matters is somehow, some way public and private stakes and motivations come into play in answering the question for the plot's best effect.

It's as good to have a villain scenario as it is a protagonist scenario. What's the villain's public and private motivations and stakes? Are they fresh and vigorous? Are they fully realized? If they are, the forces in opposition are roughly equivalent, efforts are roughly equivalent as they come to bear, and therefore, outcomes remain in doubt until the bitter end. That's three of the big four causation, tension, and antagonism plot drivers. Fourth, actually, goes to the dramatic question of who done it. Degree of information known about the main dramatic complication, ideally and true to life, gradually discovered as the plot wears on, with all salient information known by the time of the climax act.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Guardian » March 1st, 2011, 3:28 pm

A secret society protecting a religious secret...
Try to invert this cliché and you'll get an original approach. i.e.: A secret society is not protecting anything. They're completely harmless. But human suspicion and idiotism, as they can't understand the behavior of any society in general, is putting them into the crosshair of the Feds. They're not even secret, just others believe they're secret. And the hero is realizing this... after he is slaughtering all of them when the members of the society are trying to defend each other. Period. There you go; an original idea born from the well known cliché.

Hmmm. I'm going to write this one. :)

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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Margo » March 1st, 2011, 4:05 pm

Guardian wrote:
A secret society protecting a religious secret...
Try to invert this cliché and you'll get an original approach. i.e.: A secret society is not protecting anything.
Reminds me of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Guardian » March 1st, 2011, 4:12 pm

Margo wrote:Reminds me of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum.
Uh... that story was about a game which blinds the MC who is starting to forget it's a game. At least as far as I recall. So it has no true connection to this flash "Blind world" concept. Although I figured out this example storyline within 30 seconds without any research. So don't count for a miracle. :) The essence is; you can make an original concept if you make some research, meditate and spend enough time to develop and execute it well. That was my point.

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polymath
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by polymath » March 1st, 2011, 4:40 pm

Maniacal chuckles. Uh-huh, Foucalt's Pendulum is about a whimsically created, misunderstood, misguided secret society and the harmless secret society lark taken seriously by a nefarious secret society. The compellingly attractive characteristics of social inclusion and social exclusion are in play thematically, an acceptance or rejection conflict played out throughout human history.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Margo » March 1st, 2011, 5:21 pm

polymath wrote:Maniacal chuckles. Uh-huh, Foucalt's Pendulum is about a whimsically created, misunderstood, misguided secret society and the harmless secret society lark taken seriously by a nefarious secret society. The compellingly attractive characteristics of social inclusion and social exclusion are in play thematically, an acceptance or rejection conflict played out throughout human history.
I have always loved the bit where they look at the rules of the Templars and make up a story about how the actions of a couple of knights indulging in one long stint of debauchery precipitated every rule. I have always remembered that idea - that the rules of any organization are based on trouble someone already caused.
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polymath
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by polymath » March 1st, 2011, 5:39 pm

And few, if any, rules for unforeseen troubles, eh? First principle of rulemaking, don't ask for trouble. Like enact laws prohibiting acts not yet causing or likely to cause trouble. Just gives unimaginative troublemakers the means to cause trouble.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Guardian » March 1st, 2011, 5:40 pm

Margo wrote:I have always loved the bit where they look at the rules of the Templars and make up a story about how the actions of a couple of knights indulging in one long stint of debauchery precipitated every rule. I have always remembered that idea - that the rules of any organization are based on trouble someone already caused.
Hmmm. Maybe I should read this novel again to refresh it in my itsy-bitsy mind. :)

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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by sierramcconnell » March 2nd, 2011, 1:15 pm

An idea that is executed well, even if not wholly original, will stand out on it's own.

I think when they say that 'everything has been done before', they mean a general breakdown.

Character A goes on quest to find item to save the world has been done before. Zombies have been done before. Things like that.

But it's up to you to figure out what makes your book special from all the other general ideas. Why is your particular character who has this color hair and eyes different from those that have the same and so on?

If you can't make your book stand out, you're not invested in it enough. You need to do more to make it better.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Margo » March 2nd, 2011, 2:30 pm

Guardian wrote:Hmmm. Maybe I should read this novel again...
Bring an encyclopedia. Or better yet, bring a whole set, unabridged. This is the only book I have ever read that had me going to the dictionary (or more often the encyclopedia for background on the usage) every couple of pages. And that's with a history degree with a classical and medieval focus.

I still really liked it, though.
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Re: Originality of Idea

Post by Margo » March 2nd, 2011, 2:34 pm

Ermo wrote:How do you verify that your idea is somewhat original? I know that pretty much every idea/theme has been tried before (or at least you can assume that) but is there any way to find out if there's any major books/authors out there that has the same general idea?
I think the only thing you can really do is make sure your execution is as passionate, thoughtful, and well-crafted as possible. One really good way to do this, as suggested in one of Maass' books, is bringing issues you are personally passionate about into the storyline. Your passion will show and raise the execution to a new level. The only caveat I would provide is that we have to take care not to vilify opposing views when incorporating our passions.
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