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Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago
I am writing a high fantasy story, mostly about wizards and witches and such. The problem I am having, is at times I feel like I am ripping off so much other material. I guess the real question I am looking to ask is this. How do you deal with the feelings that your being unoriginal? Do you just ignore them and push on, hoping to carve out your own niche in your story, or do you go back through your material and rework it?

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

I feel that way all the time, which is one of the reasons I don't write very often, haha.  That, and no patience, but this is my advice.

Unoriginal stories with some "twists" and "tweaks" are still, well, unoriginal.  At the same time, good luck coming up with anything that hasn't already been done in some way (not impossible, but very easy either).  You can always follow some formulaic story, wizard takes a princess hostage, and some young person steps up to go find her.  That gives you a frame, without any detail whatsoever, which is what's going to make your story.  If you've got kickass writing and kickass characters, no one's gonna care if the idea's been done before, because you still wrote something worth reading.

Try to take what you want to "rip off," and cast it in a new light.  Create a situation that's similar, but not so much that it's obvious where you got it from.  Say you have a family of trolls or something in a story that come into town, massacre people, and steal a little girl.  In your story, you could change it to be a warring state who invaded, introduced disease to the livestock, and stole some artifact (which I'm sure have probably been done before, ironically haha).  But the idea is, you can take something you like and change it enough such that it doesn't seem like you're ripping anyone off, and you have plenty of leg room to make the situation what you want it to be to make your story unique.

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

That's "not very easy either," I meant

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago
Old thread I know but necromancy is perfectly okay in a discussion of high fantasy. ;)

First off, don't worry too much about plot. There are basically only seven plots with some minor variations tacked on, it's literally impossible to be completely original there so don't sweat it.

Everybody has their method, but when I write, I always put a lot of thought into the setting first, then how the setting shapes the characters, and from there as long as I'm being internally consistent and letting my little imaginary people be true to who they are the storyline pretty much lays itself out on its own. (The difficulty is in trying to keep up and filling in all the details as you go. 'Character goes here and does that' always sounds so simple on the surface but in practice, well... 'Frodo takes the One Ring and throws it into Mount Doom'. Should be able to accomplish this in like, twenty pages, right? :D)

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

Another good trick I've found is to create a large pool of reference material and work to artfully combine them into something familiar yet new. The final result is clearly inspired by X, Y and Z, but it's also become its own animal.

Granted, the success of this technique has a lot to do with the talent of the writer and their ability to blend separate storylines/elements into something intelligible.

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

Like a horse and a eagle and a rhino? makes a flying Unicorn?

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

There are few things here that you're citing as negatives that can be spun into positives. If you are writing a story that seems to be very close to an existing world, or a body of another author's work, why not just make it a fan fiction type of work? This satisfies the fans as the world they love is being expanded, it allows you to use elements that fans are familiar with, and it does a lot of the setting work for you (which reduces the amount of work you need to put into making it immersive).

Alternatively, if you want something that's entirely your own but you like a certain genre, there's nothing wrong with making it similar to something existing. The way to really shine in this situation is simply to change a few things so that the world itself (or the characters, but I find altering the setting to be easier usually) has a few notable differences. Then you incorporate those changes into the story so that the storyline has to account for the changes, or the differences figure prominantly in such a way that the story focuses on the unique elements you're introduced while allowing the "rest" of the setting to be generic sword and sorcery!

Any way you choose to handle it, remember that unless you're trying to copy someone else's work, the writing style and the imagrey will be yours. To an outside reader, I doubt we would notice if a city seems a little too much like some other city from a book we may or may not have read.

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago
The cool thing about writing similar fiction is that the reader can focus on your plot and your message instead of having to think through the world and the imagery you're trying to impress on them. If you have standard sword and sorcery going on, then you're free to introduce a really cool different aspect and the reader can fully take that in. Whereas if you're doing everything from scratch, you have to be very meticulous or it's easy for a reader to get lost.

That being said, turning a similar world into a fan fiction story isn't very easy, nor is it something I'd recommend. The moment you do that, you're accountable for a whole plethora of details and you're bound to a certain style and rules. Writing fan fiction is very different than writing your own high fantasy.

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago
Thanks for this. I had someone complain about my use of orcs in a fantasy story recently and say that I should make up my own race, and these were basically my feelings on the subject, but you worded it way better than I could have. The orcs were orcs. Their purpose was to help move the plot along in a familiar orc-y way and emphasize traits of the main character. A ten page aside to lay out the details of an entirely new race that's not even the focus of the story would have been pretty out of place and a major distraction.

It's kind of how in a sci-fi story, it's oftentimes better to just say that a ship 'warps' or 'goes into hyper-drive' or some other generic, familiar term rather than derail the actually interesting parts of the plot to go into a detailed discussion of how fast travel in that universe works. (unless 'how fast travel in that universe works' is actually a major plot point)

okay actually that last example was just an excuse to post this: http://lpix.org/sslptest/index.php?id=224 'If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories' No idea where what forum I got the link from, (possibly even this one) but either way I think it's worth a repost.

As for the whole fanfic question, that's actually an issue I've been struggling with for awhile. :D When I was bored as a kid spacing out in class or whatever a lot of times I would make up my own character to fool around in the setting of whichever book or movie I was really into at the time. A few of these stuck with me over the years and eventually kind of took on a life of their own. I would alter a detail I wasn't happy with here, fill in a few blanks in the history or setting there, kill off or add new characters as it suited me--fast forward to today and I have two or three fully realized stories in my head that I'd REALLY like to write, only I don't know how the hell I'd label them, because too many things have been changed, and at the same time, not enough. They're stuck inside of some kind of limbo where they're neither fanfiction nor original work, and if I deliberately altered them to lean more one way or the other the whole plot would fall apart.

...I don't know why I just wrote all of that, just needed to vent a bit and also verify that I am and always have been a super nerdy nerd for all the internet to see I guess.

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago
That's a pretty brutal spot to be stuck in. You almost want to label it original and then add a huge caveat. That way you don't disappoint hardcore fans but you're not plagiarizing either.

That sci/fi link was hysterical haha

Writing a high fantasy story.

10 years ago

Bro, at one point I was writing a story about a necromancer stealing corpses from graveyards and becoming a lich... how do you think I feel?

Honestly though, I just don't care. In my example I PMd Endmaster telling him about the situation and he was  cool with it, after all there's not much else you can do with that archetype, so I would advise doing that if you're ripping off anyone around here. What I would suggest is just write your own thing, and if it sounds  a little like somehting you've seen or heard or read before, that's common. Although we don't mean to plagurize (no idea how to spell that), what we read and enjoy influences us, and that includes our style of writing. So just do your own thing for now, and I'm sure it'll all turn out alright.

But if you have a dude named Hairy running around with Rod and Herboine and getting place into the Chimerador house after the Sorting Beret sees his inner self, I'm gonna call BS.