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From whence comes inspiration

 
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:10 am    Post subject: From whence comes inspiration Reply with quote

I've run across a few books lately with characters or plot lifted from tv shows. Think Eloisa James turning Gregory House into Piers Yelverton, or Susan Elia MacNeal using Alias for half the plot of Princess Elizabeth's Spy and Foyle's War for the other half.

Is using a pre-made, recognizable character the same as using a pre-made plot? Does either shortcut (my term) bother you? Is it clever to do the House/Yelverton crossover, or annoying? Or just part of these times when fan fic can become incredibly lucrative?

When you see a similarity between a tv show and a novel, is your reaction similar to your thoughts on, say, the relationship between Linda Howard's White Lies and Christina Dodd's historical version of the same story line, or is it different because they're different media?

Just wondering what other people think of this trend, or even if it is a trend.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't mind if authors are inspired by fairy tales, movies, tv programs, their neighbors, or whatever, HOWEVER, if they just regurgitate AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, for example, without changing the characterization, etc. (as one author did--can't remember who), then, I have a great problem. I suspect when authors do this, that the well has dried up. In other words, inspiration is fine; plagiarism is not.
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Hopeless_Romantic



Joined: 21 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were a few episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" that had bits from Sherlock Holmes (one had suicide made to look like murder to frame an enemy) but it was so subtle, and the characters, motive and locations were so different, you didn't even notice until the end; and only a mystery lover would probably see it.

But, if the character is so recognizable that a historical setting doesn't even hide it a little, then to me it's a rip-off of another person's creativity and imagination. I don't approve of "borrowing" to that extent! And I don't personally enjoy a book if I keep thinking about a show or movie I've seen rather than immersing myself in a new story.


As a side, IMO note, I can hardly bear the previews of 'House' because he's so annoying, I can't imagine reading a book with him as the hero. Confused
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JaneO



Joined: 17 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Authors don't live in a vacuum. They get ideas from things they see, things they hear, things they read.

You could probably give a dozen authors the same plot idea and end up with a dozen different books. And the plot idea would have been used before anyway. After all, House isn't the first arrogant, grouchy hero.
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LordRose



Joined: 25 Mar 2012
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It really doesn't bother me at all. I used to read a lot of fanfics, so I suppose that, to a certain degree, I'm used to it. Taking inspirations from your life is normal, and it can actually be quite fun (for me) if you're a fan of something and get the author's references.

The It Happened One Night/It Happened One Season anthologies were fun in this respect- they took the same basic premise and made four completely different stories out of them.

Romances being how they are, a certain number of similarities is to be expected. Plagiarism, however, is a completely different story. If the characters and plot are taken directly from another book/movie, then that is not okay. There was a discussion on Amazon recently about a freebie that took complete scenes directly from a book by Linda Howard, and people were not happy about it.
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MissRubyJones



Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X wrote:
I don't mind if authors are inspired by fairy tales, movies, tv programs, their neighbors, or whatever, HOWEVER, if they just regurgitate AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, for example, without changing the characterization, etc. (as one author did--can't remember who), then, I have a great problem. I suspect when authors do this, that the well has dried up. In other words, inspiration is fine; plagiarism is not.


But where is that line between inspiration and plagiarism? I suspect it may not be a line, lol, but a string that can be moved around!

Better yet, where does inspiration end, and wholesale "borrowing" of another's characters/ideas start?

Here's an example: I read a book earlier this year that was the most blatant rip off of the British TV show Robin Hood imaginable, from plot devices to descriptions of costumes that were identical to those on the show. When I reviewed the book, I mentioned this as a concern.

The author, however, took great umbrage to my calling it either "fan-fic or almost plagiarism" and basically shamed me for accusing her of either, albeit in such a way that "me thinks thou doth protest too much" immediately came to mind.

Her explanation was something along the lines of "well, I was inspired by the same public domain stories as the show." That felt like a cop-out to me; the situations/characters/costumes in the book that were so obviously drawn from the show are not part of the generally recognized Robin Hood oeuvre.

And yet, she seemed to think this was perfectly okay, leaving me to wonder whether I was just too hard on her, or to sensitive to the issue.
Confused
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Dede



Joined: 18 Jul 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 2:29 pm    Post subject: From Whence Comes Inspiration Reply with quote

Picky, picky, I know, but please, please don't say "from whence." It's used because people (movie people, TV people, HISTORIANS) think it sounds old-time, but whence means "from where." To say "from whence" is redundant ("from from whence"). Please help me keep my sanity by not using it. Rolling Eyes
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:10 pm    Post subject: Re: From Whence Comes Inspiration Reply with quote

Dede wrote:
Picky, picky, I know, but please, please don't say "from whence." It's used because people (movie people, TV people, HISTORIANS) think it sounds old-time, but whence means "from where." To say "from whence" is redundant ("from from whence"). Please help me keep my sanity by not using it. Rolling Eyes


Fine, no more paraphrasing Psalms in thread titles. Very Happy At least I annoyed you out of lurking.

From World Wide Words:

[E]ven a brief look at historical sources shows that from whence has been common since the thirteenth century. It has been used by Shakespeare, Defoe (in the opening of Robinson Crusoe: “He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York; from whence he had married my mother”), Smollett, Dickens (in A Christmas Carol: “He began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine”), Dryden, Gibbon, Twain (in Innocents Abroad: “He traveled all around, till at last he came to the place from whence he started”), and Trollope, and it appears 27 times in the King James Bible (including Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help”).

Though Dr Johnson objected to it in his Dictionary of 1755, calling it “A vicious mode of speech” (he meant it was reprehensible, not depraved or savage), most objections to it are no earlier than the twentieth century. One reason may be that its critics are unaware of its long pedigree.



On the plus side, I feel far less nitpicky about being annoyed by stolen plot lines.
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LordRose wrote:

The It Happened One Night/It Happened One Season anthologies were fun in this respect- they took the same basic premise and made four completely different stories out of them.


I read It Happened One Season, and thought it was fun. (I'll have to look for It Happened One Night.) Those stories all went off in different directions, though, peopled by fairly distinct personalities. Maybe there's a number of plot points stories can have in common before my copycat alarms go off. Or maybe it matters how specific or surprising the details in common are.
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Hopeless_Romantic



Joined: 21 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MissRubyJones wrote:
But where is that line between inspiration and plagiarism? I suspect it may not be a line, lol, but a string that can be moved around!

Better yet, where does inspiration end, and wholesale "borrowing" of another's characters/ideas start?

Here's an example: I read a book earlier this year that was the most blatant rip off of the British TV show Robin Hood imaginable, from plot devices to descriptions of costumes that were identical to those on the show. When I reviewed the book, I mentioned this as a concern.

The author, however, took great umbrage to my calling it either "fan-fic or almost plagiarism" and basically shamed me for accusing her of either, albeit in such a way that "me thinks thou doth protest too much" immediately came to mind.

Her explanation was something along the lines of "well, I was inspired by the same public domain stories as the show." That felt like a cop-out to me; the situations/characters/costumes in the book that were so obviously drawn from the show are not part of the generally recognized Robin Hood oeuvre.

And yet, she seemed to think this was perfectly okay, leaving me to wonder whether I was just too hard on her, or to sensitive to the issue.
Confused


I don't think you were too hard on her, she knows what she's doing and it's good that someone called her on it! "Borrowing" every part of another story isn't writing, it's reporting/recording/reviewing - stealing!
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Dede



Joined: 18 Jul 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:48 pm    Post subject: From Whence Comes Inspiration Reply with quote

Well, since I am out of lurking, I have to say I liked the James version of "House," maybe because it was a different time and a different media and all James really used was the jerk doctor, only she made him nice in the end (unlike Gregory House!). But the Howard/Dodd one bothered me a lot since they were soooo close in the plot for soooo long through the stories. I liked both books a lot, but it still bothers me. A dedication or thanks would have been nice.
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How does the saying go - "there are no new stories, just variations of old stories". So all writers get inspired by tropes, characters and stories that have already been done many times before.

It does bother me however when the borrowing and inspiration is too obvious and the book becomes too derivative - like Eloisa James channeling Gregory House. Part of my irritation comes from me wanting to imagine the hero and the heroine in my head, and when the characters are obviously based on actors or well-known characters I can't do that.

What bothers me the most though is when writers make money from fan fiction and thinly veiled plagiarism - the most blatant recent example being the Fifty Shades trilogy.
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Eliza



Joined: 21 Aug 2011
Posts: 1162

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jaime wrote:
How does the saying go - "there are no new stories, just variations of old stories"....

Agreed. How about Ecclesiastes 9: "...and there is no new thing under the sun."

To Dede and MrsFairfax re "whence," you're both right. "From whence" is in common usage and it's still redundant regardless. See:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/whence
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliza wrote:

To Dede and MrsFairfax re "whence," you're both right. "From whence" is in common usage and it's still redundant regardless. See:
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/whence


Dede's definitely correct, and I just hope I remember the next time I have occasion to toss "whence" into my conversation!

Dede, hang around and chat with us. You obviously know the territory and have opinions, so share!
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