But is it wrong?
Here's my thinking:
If you come up with an original story idea that has the same basic plot as another book on the market, then you publish it, you're in the right. There's nothing wrong with using the same plot line.
If you use characters from a story someone else wrote and write them in the same way (characteristics, attributes, location, etc...), you're in the wrong.
Oh my... I heard that all the way over here.
Why the collective gasp? Is it because I dared to say using someone's plot idea is okay? Or because I said using someone's characters is wrong?
Let me explain!
How many truly original plot lines are there? Let's do a quick rundown of the known ones:
- Boy meets girl and falls in love but they have obstacles to overcome before they can be together.
- Good king v/s bad king (or evil) and the land is in danger.
- Something stolen must be retrieved.
- Someone did something to someone else and revenge is sought.
- Life and struggles therein.
- Love triangles.
- Right v/s wrong; a lesson.
- Whodoneit? Murder mystery. Can also fall under revenge or life.
- Crime novels. Can also fall under something stolen and life.
Yes, I agree, there's a fine line to be walked there.
I read some Twilight fan fiction last year and helped the author get it to the published state (editing, cover design). Why is it Twilight fan fiction? Well, she used the same basic plot line of two boys, one girl, and something between them they have to overcome. Girl can't wrap her head around just one of the boys. But instead of paranormal aspects, the author used sci-fi aspects to create the barrier between girl A and boy A. No vampires, no location similarities, and none of the same characters. I love the Canopy series by Crystal Lee and think her story is truly original. If you think you'd like to read some science fiction romance, go check it out. See what good fan fiction is like.
Canopy Volume One on Amazon. Just $0.99.
Now, I haven't read any direct knockoffs of major best-sellers but I know they exist. I don't think any form of parody falls into this class. There are actually specific laws about writing a parody; even down to being able to use the original cover/poster art. Go figure.
So, now you have another perspective on ethics when using someone's work.
Have you read anything fan fiction based? What did you think? Was it too similar? Where do you stand?
Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!