Story Ideas: How to use an idea and turn it into something your own.

Youtube sucks.

More importantly, it is a time suck. I get stuck on it and I watch videos. I lose track of time and then nothing gets done. But sometimes I find inspiration in the piles of videos. So I came across this:

 

I am a fan of the show. I own a couple seasons, but I haven’t found the time to finish watching all of them. I do watch some of the battle scenes on Youtube as they tend to be well done and are fairly close to historically accurate for TV/ Movies.

For those that aren’t familiar with the show, the story of the series is the one of Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar was a Norse Chieftain and then king in the 9th Century. He was the father of historical figures like Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Hvitserk, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and Ubba. I am not going to go into too many details about the series, but I will kinda throw some spoilers in. But they aren’t really spoilers as it deals with historical facts and myths.

In history, Ragnar had raided his way across Northern Europe and had a bunch of sons. He had, however, pissed King Ælla of Northumbria. At one point, Ragnar was captured by the vengeful king. Who tortured him and threw him into a pit of snakes. Ragnar’s sons, all six of them, gathered a large army and then invaded Northumbria and Wessex, killing the king and taking large tracks of land.

In this scene, Odin, the Norse God, goes around to each of the Ragnar’s sons and tells them that their father is dead. Each son is doing something different. They are in different parts of the world, from the Mediterranean to working at the forge on a sword.

The scene is wonderful and works well in the TV series. They include the symbolism of the crows/ ravens and the wandering god in different parts of the show so that this scene is foreshadowed and is enjoyable.

I enjoyed the scene so much that I want to use it in my own writing.

But taking that scene is plagiarism. Right?

Wrong. Kinda. It’s complicated.

If I take the entire scene as is and use it in my novel word for word. As if that scene was written down into a book, then it would be plagiarism. But I am not going to do that.

First, I need to break down the scene into it’s different parts. To do that, I watch it a couple more times, on mute. With subtitles so I can see what they characters are saying. But they don’t say much.

The different parts. 

The sons.

They are all established characters. No time is needed to establish anyone. You have met them before. They are well developed characters. So for me to use this scene, I must have the characters established and well developed. I don’t think that I need to be sons though. I am thinking more like blood-brothers. Or members of a type of knightly order. Something like that.

Time.

As the characters are established, this is not an opening scene. Which is why it works for this story. For my story, I am thinking that it can be either the first plot point or the second. I am leaning the first. Establish the characters and then force them to get together.

The Crows, or ravens.

This is something that I will be taking from the scene. Having the God character preceded by Raven’s is something that can carry over to my novel. It adds stability to the character and foreshadows events in the story.

The God.

In the scene, it is Odin who is telling the son’s about their dad. In my story, it doesn’t have to be a father-God. It can be any type of God that does it. He just has to wander around watching people. I can make him less sinister looking that Odin was. But the character was also established. If you look up the opening scene of the TV show, you see him taking souls with him from a battlefield. In my book, I will have to establish him as a character, even if he gets no lines and is only seen from a distance.

Those are the different parts of the scene. Some can be taken as is, some can be tweaked, making the scene feel similar, without the nasty issue of plagiarism. But where and how do I turn this idea, into a non-plagiarized story?

My Manuscripted Universes. 

I have many books in the works, with the vast majority of them in the development stage. I do try and keep my world building down to a minimum. World building is a pain at times and I would rather do it as few times as possible.

I have three major fantasy story universes. Here is a problem, this story concept may not fit into any world that I have created at the moment. It may fit into one, the biggest one. ‘Agersolum’. But maybe not.

That means that if I want to seriously consider this story, then I will have to create or modify a world. But the idea is a good one.

Where to go from here?

That is the next question to ask.

You have found a kernel of an idea. A small flame. How to turn that single scene into a story.

First, I pick a world. You might not have that issue. If you do not, don’t worry about the world. You can do it after you flesh out the story a bit.

After I choose a world, I start asking questions.

In no particular order, these are some of the questions that I need to ask and answer to create this story.

  • Who does the God tell the Sons about?
  • Was he important in the world, and in the story?
  • Was he a POV character?
  • Was he a protagonist of some kind?
  • What did he do to deserve his fate?
  • Who did it to him?
  • Why did he die?
  • Could he have saved himself?
  • Did he sacrifice himself?
  • What did he do to get the attention of the God?
  • Who are the son’s?
  • Why are they important?
  • How is each son different from the next one?
  • How many son’s are there? (Ragnar had six. I don’t need to use six.)
  • Are they good fighters?
  • What are they up to?
  • How many are POV characters?
  • What are there reactions to the news?
  • What is the God, the God of?
  • What is his purpose?
  • What do the son’s do with the news?

As I answer the questions, they lead to more questions, which will also need answers.

For those that don’t have a story universe to write it in, now is the time to add in questions about the world. Draw a map, etc.

That way a story will slowly form out of a single simple idea that I saw at 2am on Youtube.

Until next time.

 

 

 

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Update: Writing, life and the family

I know that it has been a bit and my posts have dropped off. I apologize for that. My day job has gone nuts and I have spent a couple weeks doing 10 hr days. The pay will be great. After the greedy governments takes there cut.

Anyways. That has taken a lot of time from my writing and other thing time. I have pushed some things aside so that I have time to think.

I am only working on one writing project a day at the moment. The others will be there once I get more time. I am also wanting to work on the house more. I need to get it done. I am tired of living in reno-land. It is not pretty and there is no cookies. I was promised cookies.

Anyways. The family is going good. My 5 yr old girl is singing and dancing to everything. We have to be careful to what we put on, she will sing to it. Sometimes it is not appropriate.

My 6 yr old son plays piano and now wants to play guitar as well. He also take pictures with a cheap point and shoot camera we got him. He draws pictures and paints things. He is also working on a story series with him.

The one project that I am not going to drop. It is too important. It must be done.

Speaking on the project. It has a new name and the first book will be published in a few weeks. As soon as I get some notes from the editor and the cover art is done.

The new name for the book previously called, ‘Space Courier’ is now called, ‘The Des O’Neal Chronicles‘ It is a planned 6 part series with the first book under the subtitle of ‘The Saboteur Missile Attack‘.

Anyways. I work early in the AM. At an ungodly hour of 6AM. Time for bed.

Laters.

 

Rambling: Encouraging others to write.

In many ways I am an enabler. I enjoy having others find enjoyment in things that I find enjoyment in. That I have passion in. I enjoy it so much that I don’t shut up about it.

I have been criticized for obsessing about my passions and my interests.

Is that criticism justified? Warranted?

Probably.

I know that I obsess over things. It is how I am able to write about my books. Fix my house. Go to work or get out of bed. By obsessing over things, I am able to focus on something long enough to see results in that avenue.

Even if I wish that I can hit the snooze button again and go back to sleep.

My obsessions is what gets me into trouble and out of trouble. (Like watching 18 hours of a game on Let’s play and then buying it for way too much money.) I obsess with keeping a roof over my kids heads, which makes me go to work and take Overtime hours. I obsess with my half completed house renovation so that I can keep getting things done in it. Maybe one day I will finish it. I also obsess about my writing.

My writing is my passion in life. They say follow your passion and this is it.

Writing.

Writing novels, writing for my kids, writing for the complete stranger so he gets a kick out of my work. Every day I spend most of the hours thinking about some story. How to fix it, how to make it better, where to go with it. Or a new story idea that will distract me from my current work in progresses.

At the beginning, I said that I am an enabler.

What does that mean? Most people think of it as a bad thing. That I am a bad guy for encouraging someone to do something. And it can be. If I was a drug addict or a drunk.

But I am not. I cannot afford to do those things. I am a writer after all…

I enable people to follow there passions. Follow there enjoyments even if it is just as a hobby and part-time. Even if they only dabble and are not serious about completing it. I do, however, mainly encourage people to write books. Read above about my obsession.

And you may ask why? Why enable people to write books?

The answer to that question is selfish. I do it cause it is lonely over here in writing land by myself. Writing is considered a solitary affair. You sit in a room by yourself writing about make-believe people in make-believe lands doing impossible and crazy things. With no one to talk to but the people in your head…

I just realized how crazy that makes me sound…

Anyways, writing is mostly solitary. But there are times when a writer must talk to other people. Other writers. It gives encouragement and it can make you responsible for getting the work done. (Like trying to explain why your word count hasn’t moved in two weeks, but look at what you have done in that game you play.) It also helps you grow as a writer as you can learn from other people. Learn from there failures as well as there successes.

I encourage people to write as there is a lack of a strong writing community where I live and the only writers that I talk is through a Facebook group. Most are from the U.S. and I will probably never meet in person. I hope that by encouraging people to write that I can build a small writing community of my own.

Or I am a crazy obsessive compulsive who can’t stop shutting up about my make-believe characters in my make-believe world who all live in my head. You decide.