Pages

Monday, October 22, 2012

Something Borrowed…


Have you heard the thought—“There are no new plots”? I know we all have. Plots are recycled. There is the Quest Plot, the Coming of Age Plot, the Monster in the House Plot…I could go on and on.

If the plots are all old, what makes your story yours? It’s the characters and the world you put them in. Simple as that. If you can make your characters and worlds interesting and stick them inside a tried and true plot you are golden.

So I have a question and I want you all to be honest with me. Have you ever knowingly borrowed a plot? My good friend Katie Purdie wrote in a post a week ago that Shakespeare did it all the time.  

I’ll come clean :) Something new that I’m working on I’ve used the skeletal form of another book I loved the plot of. Unless you were highly observant and you knew what to look for I don’t think you would ever be able to tell.

What about you? Ever borrowed a plot? Be honest.

-Angie

28 comments:

i'm erin. said...

k, so my mom tells me this all the time. But somehow though there are only like 15 real plots in the world, I seriously can't seem to figure one out enough to borrow it. I've tried, seriously I've tried, but I muddle it up and then it's crap.

ilima said...

I never have. I'm psycho about not wanting to copy anything out there. I can't even fathom writing a fairytale retelling. Of course when I'm done and look back, I can see my stories falling into the classic plot categories. *shrugs*

Chantele Sedgwick said...

The book I'm writing right now is based off a movie I loved. We'll see how it goes. :)

Sarah McCabe said...

I question how far the idea of "borrowing a plot" goes. I mean, how far can you break down a plot into it's most basic elements before it really ceases being a plot and is more of a theme or idea?

Does it count as borrowing a plot if your work is heavily influenced by themes and elements of ancient mythology? Does it count as borrowing a plot if you take a more or less throwaway line from a story by another author and are inspired to write a story based on it? I don't know, but that's what I am doing. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

My first book was a paranomral romance and I was definitely trying to hone in some plot elements which made all the other paranormal books so successful. Fo' sho'.

Liesel K Hill said...

I don't think I've ever borrowed an entire plot, but definitely snatches. One way I come up with stories is by reading or watching my faves, and then day dreaming about where the story might eventually go (i.e. where I want it to go). Obviously they don't usually go where I would have (why would they?) so then I might borrow characters or snatches of things and integrate them into my own stories. For example, totally obsessed with the Song of Fire and Ice series right now and my favorite character is Arya. I came up with what I thought would be an awesome thing to have happen. I can already tell Martin isn't going there even remotely, so one of my WIPs has an Arya-esque character and one thing he does my character will also do, but as you say, unless you knew that beforehand, you'd never be able to tell. Interesting question! Thanks for the post! :D

Johanna Garth said...

I don't think I've borrowed a plot, but maybe elements that I thought tightened another book's plot. I think you're right that there's nothing new under the sun. What makes things feel fresh and new is the voice and perspective.

S.P. Bowers said...

well, since many of my books have to do with legends or fairy tales there are some basic plot elements that are not unique. I'll leave it at that.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

This is when I would argue that everyone borrows a plot, they just may not know it. The key is, if/when you realize it, find a way to make it feel so different no one realizes they are reading a borrowed plot.

Jeff Hargett said...

Borrow? No. Latch hold with both hands and greedily rip from the dying clutches of another? Fifth amendment. ;-)

prerna pickett said...

I did when i first really started writing back in high school. It really helped me learn the process and find my own voice and story.

Kelley Lynn said...

Never knowingly. But then I tell people about my book who have read more than I have and they're like. "Oh, that sounds like 'this' book."

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Never on purpose...but I write love stories...how many different ways can you twist them? The basic premise will be boy+girl=happily ever after. The new part is how they get there.

Nancy Thompson said...

I've never borrowed a plot, but I'm sure the whole mistaken identity thing has been done a million times over. You just need a fresh take on an old trope.

Rena said...

Oh yeah, I've borrowed plots. In fact, what I like to do is take a plot and twist it up so it feels like it's going to those old tried and true endings, but then something happens to warp it into unrecognizable.

Or my other favorite is to start somewhere impossible and lead the characters into an old standby without them noticing (or have them actively trying to escape it) the whole way (as in start in a Dracula plot, but end in Cinderella).

M Pax said...

I've definitely borrowed elements of other stories. No harm in it, unless there's nothing originally yours about it. :)

Samantha May said...

I wouldn't say that I've borrowed entire plots, but more like snippets. I don't make them the exact same though. I definitely make it my own.

Great post :)

Robin said...

My first book (that may never see the light of day EVER) was a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so yes, I have borrowed a plot. For my other 2 books I think I'm original, but I'm sure I'm not:)

Kathryn Purdie said...

First of all, I'm famous!! :-) Thanks for the mention. Since I've done retelling so far, yeah, the plot is definitely borrowed. But I really change up the plots, so sometimes I wonder why I bother with retellings in the first place. I guess I think it's super fun to take a story (plot) and completely flip it on its head and change everything I didn't like about the original. I usually have a love/hate relationship with all the myths I retell.

Suzi said...

Like most people, I'd say I didn't borrow a whole plot, but aspects of one. I'd think of it more as inspired. I've had my stories inspired by other books I've read, but most of them do not have enough similarities that you could see that.

For instance, the WIP I want to start for NaNo has foster kids. As inspired by Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits. There will be romance. Broken teens--foster kids. But there'll be more differences too.

I've never done a retelling of a fairy tale or something like that though.

Brittany said...

Well you know I have!

Tammy Theriault said...

new follower here... i've never borrowed a plot before, maybe inspired by some though...

Libby said...

Not really. I've been inspired by some, but haven't really stolen a plot yet.

jaybird said...

My first book was based on my own life experiences, so it was pretty original. Although, it still would fall under the coming of age and other popular plot lines, no matter how badly I'd like to deny it!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I don't think I've borrowed a plot, but I have borrowed ideas. In example, Sharon Creech will have characters from other novels trickle in to -this- novel, so you see they're still alive, and happy or what-not, and I like that. So usually my novels will drop a character name so everyone can catch up with their life after the novel :)

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

Myths are a great place to take your plots or worlds from. It kind of puts people on a certain footing with your story from the very beginning and then crashes into them with something new.

Emily R. King said...

Heck yeah I have. But you already know that. :)

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Um yeah. Kinda.
I've written two retellings. That has to count. But neither one is TOO much like the original. It's more the feeling and characters that I'm stealing than the plot.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...