Blogs by Brian S. Pratt
Plagerism or Flattery
11/6/2007 1:17:55 PM
A question of using age old story lines
I had always heard 'Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery'. You hear of so many complaints by people saying how one author retold the story of another. Case in point, Lord of the Rings. How many times are present day authors compared to, or rather blamed for copying, the ideas of the masters?
One of my favorite stories is basically a rehashing of the Lord of the Rings. It's a tale about Warrows(Hobbit like creatures) who live beyond the Thorn Barrier.
Overall it's basically the same story as Lord of the Rings, yet incorporates unique elements as well. The Warrows are archers, fear tokens, etc.
What drew me to this story was the similarity. I LIKED the Lord of the Rings and wanted more. That author gave it to me. Some have said Brook's Sword of Shanarra was another that ripped off Lord of the Rings. But again, it's a story I liked because of its similarities to Tolkien's classic.
Are there any unique stories? I don't think so. At the core of each is an underlying element or premise which could be traced back to an earlier work. Does this make it bad? No. What is all important is the skill in which the author tells his or her story.
I realize that there are some works out there that is a word by word plagiarism, and that is wrong. I'll boycott that type of author in a heartbeat. But it bothers me not if someone creates a similar, though unique telling of an age old classic. They had just better do the original justice or the book gets tossed out with the trash.
This subject use to bother me in respect to music. I once asked myself, can't anyone write a decent song anymore? In fact, many of the songs released today seems to be covers of old standards.
An example: A few years ago when I was driving taxis, three young teenage girls got in and though I knew they didn't like the old country I was playing, I kept it on low. they didn't seem to mind all that much. Well anyway, Dolly Pardon's song 'I will always love you' came on.
"Hey!" one girl exclaimed. "She redid the Whitney Houston song!"
The girls were getting mad(why, I don't know) at the fact that Dolly had 'stolen' her song.
Let me tell you, it was with great satisfaction that I informed the girls that the song Whitney had done had been released before any of the three girls had been born.
That brought home to me the fact that whatever you hear/read first will always be the original to you. When someone else does it, they must have copied it. The older you are, the more likely you are correct.
Another incident in my taxi, a young man and his girlfriend had gotten in and asked to listen to a local hip-hop station. I agreed. About halfway through their ride, the dj came on and announced a new brand new song by (?--I haven't a clue). About halfway through the song, I found myself singing along. This hip-hop/rock star had redone an old country song. To my amusement, the kids in the back overheard me singing and was surprised that I liked the song. Couldn't help but laugh when I informed them that my dad used to force me to listen to it on the old country station when I was a kid.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that authors write what they like to read and they can't help but to be influenced by everything they have read. All that really matters is the skill in which they do it.
---Wonder if anyone will ever retell my stories too??
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