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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