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Chris James

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Okay, I know this is a little off the wall, but in the story I am writing my two young characters are discovering one another and will continue to do so. And I came upon a moment of trial or what I perceive to be an emotional impasse between these boys.

Conflict can either breed contempt or foster forgiveness. It is important to my plot that these two get along because their futures depend upon one another. But writing about this makes me happy because I know they will succeed.

I approached this part of my story by watching a film I adore today because of the emotional values I can use in the plot. This short scene is about forgiveness and bonding. Watch it if you like.

http://youtu.be/7Qn3tel9FWU

My characters are in a clash of cultures, both of them struggling to understand the other. There are so many ways this could go bad but so many other people are depending upon them...they have to make it work. And I hope to have the story for you later next month.

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I approached this part of my story by watching a film I adore today because of the emotional values I can use in the plot. This short scene is about forgiveness and bonding. Watch it if you like.

I don't think this scene isn't about forgiveness at all. It's a group of disparate people -- rock stars, a manager, a kid who's a fledgling Rolling Stone journalist, and an experienced rock groupie -- who briefly join together for a moment singing a classic song (only 2 years old in 1974) on a tour bus. The forgiveness doesn't come until the end of the movie, when the rock star reluctantly lets Rolling Stone print the kid's article.

I love the film but I don't think the scene is what you think it is. Almost Famous is a very interesting, insightful movie with a lot of nuances. I think the scenes between the kid and Phillip Hoffman's "Lester Bangs" character are the best in the entire film -- and are also very true to life, if you know Cameron Crowe's own story. Crowe is a helluva writer, though I think the movie kind of falls apart towards the end.

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There's an issue here that I'm dealing with at the moment. Chris is looking at inspiration from a movie. Where do we get our ideas? I too use a bunch of sources like movies and such. Lot of things give me ideas. TV shows, books, movies, ads, even just titles of things, or plot blurbs.

Is it wrong to build a story, a character, from an idea you've gotten from such a source? I mean, the idea isn't entirely original. But does that matter? I too am developing a story, and some of the basis for it comes from a book I read. Is that legitimate?

My feeling is, if we build characters separate from the source material, if the plot differs, if we don't use what was done before to build the drama or give us a moral ending, then it's our own work and perhaps dependent on the source but not part of it; we only used that for inspiration, and didn't take it and tweak it a little and build the same story under our own name.

Do you guys agree, or disagree?

C

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I build my story and plot first, then I build the characters so they fit the story, That's what works for me. I build stories from an incident (Repugnance is from something that happened on a BART platform), personal experience (The Ghost in the Machine is based on something that happened on my first internship), TV, movies, radio, books (The Tale of Snow White is from watching the Disney movie on TV with my sisters), or Just from my imagination (most of my stories).

Whatever works for you, works.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Um, perhaps I have misled. My story has nothing to do with the plot of the film Almost Famous. But I do like the film for the emotions it portrays between the characters, many of which are misguided, and that was my point.

No, my story is about the son of Irish immigrants who befriends a young Apache because of circumstances they share. The time period is what fascinated me, the early 1900's and I have searched far and wide for distinct elements to incorporate in the story. Fun stuff always seems to pop up when history is viewed from a great distance. Now back to work.

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Is it wrong to build a story, a character, from an idea you've gotten from such a source? I mean, the idea isn't entirely original. But does that matter? I too am developing a story, and some of the basis for it comes from a book I read. Is that legitimate?

.

This is a great question, for it goes to the heart of our intellectual tradition. All writers "talk" to one another, I believe. Aristotle got ideas from Plato, St. Thomas got ideas from Aristotle. We borrow our inspiration from what has gone before, Poems, stories, films... every source is grist for our mill.

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“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

[MovieMaker Magazine #53 - Winter, January 22, 2004 ]”

Jim Jarmusch

Okay, I think that about covers it.....

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I like that. And I agree with it. I think if what we do is original in and of itself, the fact it was inspired by something else is immaterial. And in a way, it is the highest praise possible for the source work that was the inspiration.

I think we who write understand what plagiarism is and what it isn't. Taking an idea and running a different direction with it from how the original went seems perfectly legitimate and moral to me.

C

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Um, perhaps I have misled. My story has nothing to do with the plot of the film Almost Famous. But I do like the film for the emotions it portrays between the characters, many of which are misguided, and that was my point.

That is an apt description of Almost Famous -- there are several characters in the movie who are misguided (including the rock stars, the young writer, the would-be girl friend, and several others). Some of the greatest stories going back to Shakespeare concern characters who are misguided or at least have the wrong idea about life and each other, often leading to comic (or tragic) situations.

The better line I like about plagiarism is from Picasso: "good artists copy; great artists steal." I don't think that's necessarily true about writing, but I see no problem if you borrow the core of an idea and then do something completely different with it.

BTW, the best scene in Almost Famous (to me) was an ad-lib where the girl tells the kid she wants to run off and go to Morocco on an adventure and take him with her, and he immediately responds, "ask me again!" That was the actor telling the girl to do the line again, because he wanted another take. The director thought this was such a natural and unexpected moment, he left it in the film! I had no idea that was the case when I saw it, but it was a memorable scene that stuck with me for a long time.

Actually, the best scene in that film, now that I think about it, was the one where Phillip Seymour Hoffman tells the kid that "people like us will never be cool. It's the misfits in life who become the greatest artists, because they weren't cool." And that's a very touching and poignant moment:

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