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15

What has worked for me in the past is to simply concentrate on telling the story. I'm assuming you are on your first draft and have yet to complete even that. In that case, you need to spend less time analyzing and more time telling your story. If you spend too much time reviewing as you write, you'll end up with a case of paralysis by analysis. Sometimes ...


13

If you're writing in your own original world, try to think of the kinds of things that are present in that world. I actually spent quite a while thinking about what possible phrases could exist in various areas of my current fantasy world. Try to imagine how the idiom you are trying to create could have come about in the setting. Include imagery that would ...


10

There is nothing new under the sun, my friend. If you read TV Tropes you might be forgiven for thinking that all plots are like all other plots. However it is not the plots (there are considered to be only seven or so actual plots anyway) but the characterisations, details, names etc that make your world unique to you. If you are worried that you have by ...


10

If everything you write is sounding like overused tropes and clichés, it may be that you're simply showing your influences. And when you see your writing, all you're seeing are those influences. Hence, it feels less substantial to you. What, exactly is "bland, generic fantasy" to you? I suggest you define what it is you're trying to avoid. Make a list if ...


9

On the first draft: you won't. First drafts are almost invariably clunkers. But your first draft is not meant to shine. Your first draft is meant to get the story onto paper and out of your head where it's been languishing for years. Once it's on paper, then you can edit, revise, polish, and get an editor/editors to scrub out the bland and generic. But ...


9

When a story becomes timeless, I think it is because it tells some universal "truth". The story is just an example of this truth, while the underlying morale can be applied to almost any time in history. And what was present on the earth 2000 years ago, and still is today? People. Human beings. Characters. If you look at the example of 9/11, what mechanisms ...


8

Complete originality is a bit of a wild goose chase. Neither Lord of the Rings, nor Game of Thrones nor Star Wars takes place in a completely original setting. They've all borrowed extensively from various sources. LOTR is based in large part on old myths, GOT is a fairly typical medieval-themed fantasy world and Star Wars is quite consciously a fairy ...


8

I think the main issue here is "accessibility out of context" i.e. how accessible is the raw emotion behind the event to someone viewing it with very little context to go on. The most immediate and easily accessible example of accessible emotion is the killing of Bambi's mother in Bambi, it's one of the most popularly referenced moments of movie sadness in ...


6

The random word approach is not as bad as you think: Divide a piece of paper into three columns Write nouns randomly in the first column and cover it Write verbs into the second and cover it (same amount as nouns) Write adjectives into the third column (same amount as nouns) Phrase a sentence which each row Write ten sentences each day of one week and ...


5

The essence of a good climax starts with good conflict. You need two (at least two) forces which are going to clash with one another. These need not be warships, or wizards, or anything titanic, if you're not writing Sci-Fi. Or even if you are...remember the classics: 'Man vs. Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self' that they used to teach in school. Once ...


5

Consider that the theme in author A's book that is inspiring you was almost certainly found by author A in author B's work and inspired them, and so on. What's important is that you find a unique and original way to weave a story around that theme. For instance: Humble, unremarkable individual finds, quite by accident, some supremely important object ...


5

The only works that are truly original are by people who've never had any contact with other people. Every work has inspiration from other works, or ideas that are present in other places. Many excellent works don't even have novel plots. As for legal repercussions, "ideas" are not protected by law. Only the expression of the idea is protected by copyright. ...


3

To build on Chris Sunami's answer, you don't want a universe or setting that is entirely foreign, lest your potential readers not find a way to identify with it even subconsciously. But given your examples, I definitely understand. I would say the most important aspect of a new setting is immersion; the more you can develop the world and characters, the ...


3

Take elements from multiple sources and combine them in a unique way. The reality is that none of us is entirely original; we all borrow (consciously or unconsciously) from others. French writer Georges Polti claimed in the 19th century that there were only 36 dramatic situations that could occur in a story or performance. More recently Christopher Booker ...


3

One kind of off the wall solution I've used in the past to make fantasy/sci-fi feel less generic is choosing another style of writing (genre fiction or otherwise) and trying very consciously to emulate it while I write. If you're writing fantasy, maybe read nothing but noir fiction while you're writing and try to absorb the syntax/diction of that genre into ...


3

Have you ever read a few words, or heard a description of a plot twist, and thought, "that sounds like something thus-and-so would have come up with"? We all have, and that's because the writers we love have visible hallmarks of their style. Themes recur in their work, and they favor certain kinds of language. Wearing your influences on your sleeve, both ...


3

Let me answer this in a more practical fashion: Let's say you've written a Hero's Journey, which has a standard pattern. And as you read over your work, you realize "this sounds a lot like Star Wars!" (Not unreasonable, since Lucas followed Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces pretty closely.) Find the first element which strikes you as unoriginal, and ...


2

I learnt the hard way that you need conflict, often just at a low level, for a mere scene to progress. Just something as idiotically simple as "the characters need to quietly open an old door". Here, the conflict is doing an action that would normally make sound noise as quietly as possible. How they solve that is what makes the scene. In the same way, the ...


2

...angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night I listen to readings of Allen Ginsberg poetry. Howl Supermarket in California


2

In contrast to Neil Fein (in his comment) I understand the question to be: How can I be more original? When it comes to originality, there is a continuum, with plagiarism (and fan fiction) on the one end and originality on the other. But why is not all art original? Or why is not all art derivative? In my opinion, the two tendencies of the originality ...


2

I constantly read books and watch movies that are totally unlike anything that I have ever read or seen before. There is an unlimited wealth of stories that have never been told. If your story is like "all other" alien invasion stories, then that is because you have seen or read those other stories, learned their underlying schema, and now have applied it ...


2

To my mind, creating an original world that still makes sense to the reader is best done by coming up with one central idea about this world and then deriving most of the other details from this idea. In Science Fiction this is often a technological development that may or may not be already starting in our days. For example in Altered Carbon one such idea ...


2

I'm going to take my own advice, and answer your question from a writing perspective, which (I think) boils down to: How original must my setting be, in order for my story to be worthy of readers' time? To start, try looking at this question and answers. One of the drawbacks of an original setting is that you've got a lot of explaining to do. Next, ...


2

So, is a re-written or strongly edited work an original one? Almost certainly not. The reason publishers care about first rights is that very few people are going to buy a book they've already read. By putting something on the Internet, you're effectively exercising your worldwide first rights -- anyone anywhere can read it, after all. There can be ...


2

Almost never. Royalties apply to copyright, and copyright only applies to the literal text of the material. Anything you learn, you can use, so long as you don't use word-for-word quotations without attribution. Let's say you are writing a book about Lincoln and you read Team Of Rivals (the source material for the recent Daniel Day Lewis movie Lincoln). ...


2

There's a couple practical things that can help. First, try keeping a dream journal --anyone can learn to remember their dreams, and it's a direct connection to your own personal subconscious. Second, try exposing yourself to a different form of creativity --music or visual art. At least then if you're influenced, it will be by someone who isn't working ...


1

For me, writing boils down to resonating with myself and my audience which means both good news and bad news for anyone looking to avoid cliches: Bad news: Cliches are the typical way to resonate with your audience What makes cliches so common is that they work well and things that work well tend to be foundational. Stray too far from the accepted ...


1

Developing your world around a central concept or thought experiment that you want to explore is a tried and tested method, as is basing it on the needs of your plot and extrapolating from there. Both might, however, fail to provide you with inspiration for the details that are not directly connected to that central theme, in which case you might end up with ...


1

i am new to this so treat me kindly- the things that you need to worry about, are three factors to gain originality according to me: magic/tech/maybe both: have something new and interesting- something that people are willing and eager to read more about and understand this new system that you are bringing alive. in case of tech, just because the tech is ...


1

The difference between copyright violation, plagiarism, and inspiration is a range and not three distinct points. Obviously -- I think this is obvious anyway -- if you copy somebody else's story word for word and put your own title and by-line on it, that's copyright violation. If you take somebody else's story and make just enough changes to avoid ...



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