Story Ideas: Original or Rip-Offs

Like the blog posts that I wrote in January, the posts that I write in February will be about a single theme.

This month’s theme will be centered on writing and the ideas necessary to writing a good book.

My Basic Thoughts

A lot of wannabe writers want to write a novel but are paralyzed from starting a book as they haven’t “found the correct idea yet.” I have heard wannabe novelists claiming that they have to “ponder and muse over an idea for a year” before they are satisfied that it is “original enough to write.”

I call bullocks to all of that.

The Hard Truth

Every plot has been told before. If you look back at different stories told, you will see similarities. Not just easy, simple similarities, but large story encompassing stories. The “Avatar” movie is a prime example of this.

From the website, ( it lists a series of different movies that have the same plot as each other. Yet each movie is different than the next. This is what is written in the section about Avatar.

Plot: A man joins up with natives to learn their culture and exploit them. He ends up falling in love with their way of life—and one of their women—and leads them to victory over those trying to take advantage of their resources.

This is the plot of not only “Avatar” but of “Pocahontas,” “Dances With Wolves,” and “Fern Gully”

From IMDB about Avatar.

A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Replace paraplegic marine with English sailor and the moon Pandora to Virginia and you have the plot of Pocahontas. Even the biblical story of Moses has the same plot.

Does that mean that one author stole the story from the one before? That it “ripped it off?”

How One of the Great Authors got one Great Idea.

One of the big mainstream authors currently writing is Jim Butcher. He is famous for his Dresden Files series. He wrote a series called Codex Alera.

From the Wikipedia page for Codex Alera.

The inspiration for the series came from a bet Butcher was challenged to by a member of the Del Rey Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Butcher could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and he countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion”, and “Pokémon.”

Here is the link to the interview.

My Thoughts in Detail

Ideas are a dime a dozen. Like the trading card blister packs that kids buy at the comic book store. Some of the ideas are good, some are bad. However, it is subjective and all depends on what the kid has in her deck already. To some without anything to use yet, any card is good, while others that have been collecting for longer, they are looking for specific cards.

However, that metaphor doesn’t go far enough. It is like collecting cards for “Magic the Gathering.” Despite buying a blister pack and getting ‘lame’ cards, a good player can use those lame cards to his advantage. They can beat players with better cards just as easy as those without.

It is the same with story ideas. A good author will use whatever story idea the have to it’s greatest effect. Like the story of the Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon, using simple ideas that aren’t connected or poorly connected to form a story will produce fresh stories. These stories at their cores will be rehashes from previous stories, but they will be told in a fresh way that will delight readers and audiences.

In the next few weeks, I will go over some strategies that I use to develop my stories.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are greatly appreciated.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s