Worried i'll be accused of copying

Tiger King

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May 1, 2020
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Hey gang! hope you're all keeping well.

So, a couple years ago I was writing a short story about a ship that was sailing to the arctic on a mission to dispose of a mysterious cargo. I got to about the halfway point when I needed to look something technical up on ships from the late 1800's. It was then I discovered the story of HMS Terror and how AMC, at that time, were going to turn it into a show (I think it has aired a few episodes now?).

I saw that there was some similarities so gave up on the story. Recently however, I found the incomplete story on my computer and with fresh eyes gave it a quick read and realised, hmm it's not so awful maybe I should finish it?

But I'm worried that if I give it to anyone to read they'll think 'oh you just copied that show'.

I'm only trying to chase a hobby and maybe one day throw a mediocre at best, anthology of short stories on amazon. What do you think? should I finish it or is it not worth the hassle and I should just move on?

Thanks in advance!
 

Frezzato

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carlsberg export said:
Hey gang! hope you're all keeping well.

So, a couple years ago I was writing a short story about a ship that was sailing to the arctic on a mission to dispose of a mysterious cargo. I got to about the halfway point when I needed to look something technical up on ships from the late 1800's. It was then I discovered the story of HMS Terror and how AMC, at that time, were going to turn it into a show (I think it has aired a few episodes now?).

I saw that there was some similarities so gave up on the story. Recently however, I found the incomplete story on my computer and with fresh eyes gave it a quick read and realised, hmm it's not so awful maybe I should finish it?

But I'm worried that if I give it to anyone to read they'll think 'oh you just copied that show'.

I'm only trying to chase a hobby and maybe one day throw a mediocre at best, anthology of short stories on amazon. What do you think? should I finish it or is it not worth the hassle and I should just move on?

Thanks in advance!
-

From the New York Film Academy:

As a writer, you'll no doubt recognize this very common scenario: you describe the brilliant screenplay you're working on to a friend, only for her to reply with, "Hmmm, that sounds just like Movie X."

Horrified, you look it up on IMDB or Wikipedia. You've never even seen the movie in question, but sure enough, you find it does indeed follow a pretty similar plot to your idea.

So, should you be worried about being sued for plagiarism?

Nope. Because you can't actually be sued for plagiarism; that's an ethical issue, not a legal one.

What you can be sued for is copyright violation, and it's very difficult to commit this crime accidentally; this covers ripping off character names and entire passages of text, not expressing the same idea in a different way. Ideas, after all, are not copyrightable.

Simply having a similar plot (or even the same plot in most circumstances) does not constitute copyright violation. As we've covered previously, just as there are only seven notes with which to make songs, there are only so many plot archetypes and tropes with which to create a satisfying story. Every writer is inspired by works that have gone before their pen hit the page, and being inspired is far from violating copyrighted works. Think of the overt similarities between the TV show "House" and the "Sherlock Holmes" canon, for instance.

In fact, if you're genuinely worried about mistakenly violating copyright, you're precisely the type of person who's least likely to do it.

https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/screenwriting101-what-plagiarism-is-what-it-isnt-and-how-to-protect-yourself-from-it/ [https://www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/screenwriting101-what-plagiarism-is-what-it-isnt-and-how-to-protect-yourself-from-it/]

I say go for it. I can't remember too many works where an alternative history was used to illustrate historical moments. The biggest exception being Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which I swear I thought was a comedy when a friend dragged me to see it. I kept laughing throughout and it took me half an hour to realize that the filmmakers were being serious.
 
Apr 5, 2008
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Something to amuse you. Depending where you look, if you took some training course, asked someone for advice or heard it on your travels, there are either "Seven Basic Plots [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Basic_Plots]" or the one I love, "There are only two stories: man goes on a journey, and stranger comes to town."

It's easy to make parallels between every story you've ever read, watched, played or heard, but it should never dissuade you from writing your own. There is no writer alive who has not been influenced by what has come before and gone on to write fine, original works of their own. Your story might share a similar premise, but your characters, prose and possibly themes will likely be different. Assuming you enjoy the process, you should put your story down.

Expect that the first draft will suck, but do it anyway and don't be discouraged. Good luck, let us know on these forums somewhere if you post or publish it anywhere.
 

Tiger King

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hey guys, sorry for the late reply. Didn't think anyone was going to throw in their two cents so I kinda stopped checking up on this post.

It's frustrating but what you guys have put forward is true. Everyone who ever picked up a pen and tried scribbling out a story soon learns (or at least I have) that everything has pretty much already been said and done before and it takes a real genious to come up with something original.

Also I was in a book store the other day and saw lots of fantasy books that looked fairly generic and it made me think there is no rule about copying a setting in a story (I hope!) all those authors just doing what they do for the love of it.

Anyway thanks for your input KingsGambit and Frezzato, I'll crack on with the story and hopefully string something legible together.