Creating plot that is inspired by a book, but not copying

So i have a good plot in my mind, but i don’t know if making a story that was inspired by a book is allowed.
I am not trying to copy the book itself, i only inspired by the main idea itself

for example:
if i was inspired by a book that was about time travel and changing the main character past. so, i was making a story about getting trapped in the past and trying to get back to present time.

Inspired is okay, copying is not okay.

Besides, how many stories that’s about vampire, or zombie, or fantasy-with-throwing-fireball-in-the-face can you find in CoG/HG?



If you really just take the basic idea I don’t see the problem? Just take some plot elements and take care to bring in enough originality so it’s not a carbon copy of the story you are inspired by. No problem whatsoever, as this is exactly what thousands of other writers are doing. Just think about all the fantasy books that obviously are inspired by Tolkien and no one bats an eye.
Getting inspired by another author’s work is nothing bad. Just don’t end up writing the exact same book as the one that inspired you, because at that point it isn’t “being inspired by” anymore but plagiarism.


This seems a perfect summary of the most logical argument. By the way, @Cookies_Warrior is that example that you gave what you had in mind? Because it is really promising. We can never have too many novels/games about time travel and stuff like that. :grinning:

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ok thanks :slight_smile:
:)))))))))))))))))<----to fill the minimal reply

Literature (and other forms of storytelling) tend to tell the same basic plots in many different ways, to the point that scholars of literature attempt to condense them down into things like ‘seven basic plots’ (Christopher Booker).

Some stories are passed down to us from many thousands of years before copyright limitations, and you can write based on those as freely as you want: myth, old fairy tales, heroic epics… Shakespeare wrote before anyone was worried much about copyright, and he’s certainly old enough you could return the favor.

Stories that use the model of another great story as a homage to it are also rather common. Virgil’s Aeneid is a love letter to the Illiad and the Odyssey, jumping off from the same event (the Trojan War) and using a similar structure to give Rome its own great epic. Retellings of A Christmas Carol are very common.

Plot, voice, humor, structure, generalized elements of a story, you can be inspired by all of these from another author. For an original work, avoid using the parts of another modern work that can be copyrighted: specific characters, unique settings, illustrations, the writing itself (not an exhaustive list). Literature has a somewhat more flexible tradition on using ideas for your own compared to, say, academic work: most stories are ones we’ve told for thousands of years, and will continue to tell.


i see…
well, taking the basic idea is what i would do most of the time :slight_smile:

sadly, it’s not what i have in mind, sorry. But what i did is kinda like the close relative to time travel, its a secret :wink:

but maybe in the future…with a time machine XD

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Thanks for the knowledge :slight_smile:

anyway for all, sorry that i make the reply not in a single post, i haven’t think about it ;_;

Everyine gets inspiration from somewhere. And a good book is meant to inspire.

My teacher gave me advice a while back that I think could be relevant: to read that book before you get going, then put some distance between you and it (I tend to read something else unrelated). Don’t read it while you’re writing. That way you can keep the two separate and the source simply inspiration.

That way you can build your own story from the elements you like, without being in danger of copying.


I think this is extremely important - @Gower wrote a story based off of Shakespeare and everything in his story is related to the Shakespearean play that inspired it. Yet, in every act and every scene, he placed his own mark on it, so the story became his own.

Its like a bladesmith making a sword - the types of swords out there are pretty well defined but each person places their own mark on their creation and that particular sword becomes theirs… even if it was based on someone else’s original.


I think the biggest suggestion I have here is to try to evoke flavor rather than the specific plot beats of the text you are working from. For me, I tried to use a number of plays to evoke Shakespearean comedy rather than cleaving really closely to just one. I’m trying to do the same thing with the novels of P.G. Wodehouse for the upcoming Tally Ho.


I disagree. Academic work too involves a lot of “inspiration”, like Literature. But that is for some other forums.

Coming to the main topic, I believe that even depending greatly on an existing story can create a new story which is as great as a more original one, provided that the style of the language (someone can point me to a better phrase maybe) followed by the author is different from that of the original book’s author.

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Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara is a good cautionary example here. Because he’s not just copying the flavor of Lord of the Rings but any number of identifiable characters and plot beats, SoS is widely mocked as a straight-up Tolkien ripoff.

SoS is of course also a great pre-Shades of Gray example of how you can ride thinly-disguised plagiarism all the way to the bank. But if you want to keep your self-respect, I’d take Gower’s advice. :slight_smile:


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Inspiration vs Plagiarism Consolidated Discussion