Apr. 22 Writing Prompt

No idea is a unique idea. Or so they say, I am not sure.

What I am sure about though, is that you can find a story similar to yours, an idea like yours or even a whole series that makes you think you copied someone else. Even when you have never seen or heard of the idea before.

This is an important lesson, though, and I don’t want you to get discouraged. If you come up with a new and fresh idea that you are proud of, stick with it. There are a limited number of words out there. You are bound to use some of the same ones, in the same order as someone else.

However, your are not copying them directly and your words are still good enough on their own.

Making copies
How much can you copy and get away with it? A lot, as it turns out.

Think about this. Have you ever watched a TV series, or read a book or watched a movie, and thought “man, I wish I could find something else just like this so I could read/watch it again?”

We like things a particular way, as humans. We have habits and likes and dislikes. If you like crime documentaries, for example, you will probably watch all of them that come on the TV. It’s the same with books.

If your audience likes a particular style of book, they aren’t going to not read yours because they read a similar one.

So today, we are going to continue Ideas Week and take advantage of this fact.

April 22

Find a book in your favorite genre or writing style. Using this published book as a lead, read through it until you get an idea of your own based off of this book. Write out your idea.

Copying others is a time-honored tradition. As they also say, imitation is a form of flattery.

And since there aren’t any true unique ideas out there, this is fine. As long as you do not use the same characters, situations or places, you are golden.

Need a real life example? How about Walt Disney? He built an empire copying others. From the Brothers Grimm to Beatrix Potter, there is hardly a Disney movie out there that was an original Disney idea.

So, if we are stuck for ideas, we can borrow from those that have gone before us.

As another example, I watched a film called The Replacement Killers in theaters with a friend of mine. We enjoyed it on many levels, but as we left the theater, we talked about things we would change and what we would do different to make the movie even better.

This idea stayed with me for years and eventually turned into my first full length screenplay called Ghost Target.

So following that lead, I want you to take your favorite book or story and write out your idea on how you would make it better.

What would you do differently? What would you change to make your own story based on the idea in the published one?

Once you have your new idea written out, share it in the comment section for the rest of us. Let’s see if we can guess which story inspired your new idea.

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