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Any aspiring authors in this forum?


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Hi. I was wondering if there were any aspiring authors in this forum? I myself am one and my inspiration comes from many sources (eg LOTR, His Dark Materials, WoT etc...)

 

I was just hoping that you may share your experiences of how the WoT has influenced your writing. I hate it when people tell me that my work is too similar to someone else's work. I am still planning my first novel and intend to write something that no-one will accuse of 'stealing ideas.' However, the WoT is exerting a tremendous pull on my brain and I am currently fighting a war against it, trying to avoid stealing RJ's ideas!!!!! So anyone else?

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I think it's alright to draw inspiration from and pay homage to your influences, if you're a writer. I mean, it's in the bible that there's nothing new under the sun and I'm sure that that idea is even older.

I think it's best to not worry so much about stealing the style of your favorite authors. I think it's best to be concerned about developing your own voice. I often read about authors starting off their career emulating particular authors they admire and eventually their own voice just...happens.

I, myself find that when I write something, I do emulate Robert Jordan, whether consciously or subconsciously. I enjoy the affect of his use of fragments and pauses. Abruptness. All rather old techniques, but RJ uses them in a distinct way that is easy to recognize. His use of description, point of view, multiple kaleidescope perspectives and characters. the sense of scope he uses is also seen in other, older works such as Tolkien and Herbert, but again, RJ's brush strokes use the same paint to new, distinct affect.

 

I don't think anyone would fault, say, Brandon Sanderson, for emulating RJ, because he is very vocal and honest about the reverence he has for RJ's work and the importance it has for his own.

In fact, the more people who emulate RJ in the crafting of their fiction, I'd say, they'd be on the right path. Often your own path will reveal itself once you follow in the footsteps of those you admire and respect.

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Thanks for your support. I started researching fantasy stories/opinions/cliches and all that a few weeks back and it has mostly been discouraging.

 

Many fantasy critics just don't ever imagine themselves in the shoes of a writer. That is why we have so much criticism floating around.

 

Your advice was encouraging. I wish more people were like minded like you, Jonn. ;)

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I do a lot of writing but it isn't really in this particular genre like WOT.

 

Every time I try to write a fantasy novel it turns out to be what I would be doing if I were in Randland, hahaha.  So I'll just stick to my own genre and enjoy the creativity of those who can write fantasy.

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Guest Dreadlord

Thats a good point and something thats been annoying me for a while. It annoys me when people find the slightest thing about Wheel of Time and compare it to something else, and say RJ borrowed the ideas. Granted, RJ admitted to borrowing a few things. But that doesnt mean he borrowed everything thats similar to something else; as said earlier, theres nothing new about the sun.

 

I am an aspiring writer myself (although I havent even started my story yet, I am still writing notes) and I have drawn a lot of inspiration from RJ. Im sure you will know exactly what I mean when I say this series isnt a painting, its a tapestry, with so many layers that you find new things each time you see it. All the little hints he placed throughout the series, all the speculation created by the not-yet-explained details, as well as the brilliant storyline and characters...

 

Another thing about the series that amazes me is the "magic" system. RJ didnt mention any of the typical words that other authors use when refering to the ability to use "magic" and I find that that isnt an easy thing to do at all. He created a completely new system, and explained it well enough to make it realistic. Words like magic, casting spells, wizards, etc all seem too fairy-tale now that I have seen it done the way RJ did, and I now dislike associating those words with my own story (although it is a fantasy I am writing, and "magic" is going to be a big part of it).

 

But yes, it annoys me when people find every similarity between books. You could say RJ borrowed an idea because Rand wont be the first protagonist to save the world, or that he borrowed the idea of Rands parents not being who he thought they were, as its happened in other serieses (sp) but if you did say it, you should be shot.

 

I find that alot of my ideas come from chains of thought when I see a film or scene in a book. For example, if anyone has seen Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children you will remember that Cloud has 5 or 6 swords that fit together to make a massive sword (seriously, watch it, its good) and that led me on to an idea of a set of 3 "magic items" whose power can be combined when using a fourth. I almost imagine that set of items to be the equivalent of the Choeden Kal, but thats only because I am reading WoT at this moment in time. Like I say, a chain of thought led me from Clouds swords to these items. This is how many authors get there ideas; this is how many of us draw inspiration from each other. It is the nature of things.

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You are all invited to the Illuminators Org. We have a private board called the Scribes Chapter House that is devoted to writers and writing. We work on callaborative stories, poems, and have just introduced a quarterly zine that will feature submissions by writers like yourselves. Occasionaly we have published authors do a Q&A. David B.Coe was our latest guest and Patrick Rothfuss was here last year.

 

We also have another private board called The Critique Circle where everyone submits short stories or excerpts from novels and we all read and critique each other's stuff.

 

Then there is the World Building project where we are striving to create an original universe of our own! You can link to it at the bottom of my sig.

 

As far as writing and the search for originality is concerned, I find that the author's voice and the way that they present their material matters much more than the setting. How many fantasy stories have elves, dwarves etc? Some are good and some are bad, but it's what the auithor does with them that makes the difference. As long as you are not writing in someone elses universe or using their characters, you should be fine. It's kind of like music - there is not a note that has not been played a million times. It's just how you put them together!

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It's kind of like music - there is not a note that has not been played a million times. It's just how you put them together!

 

Wow. I love that sentence. I'm gonna post that on every cliche site that I can find.

 

 

Another thing about the series that amazes me is the "magic" system. RJ didnt mention any of the typical words that other authors use when refering to the ability to use "magic" and I find that that isnt an easy thing to do at all. He created a completely new system, and explained it well enough to make it realistic. Words like magic, casting spells, wizards, etc all seem too fairy-tale now that I have seen it done the way RJ did, and I now dislike associating those words with my own story (although it is a fantasy I am writing, and "magic" is going to be a big part of it).

 

 

 

Absolutely true.  The magic system is very highly developed in the WoT. I read the Belgariad after the WoT and I found it to be very very boring. However, many people have complimented the Belgariad as an excellent fantasy novel. This just shows me that the WoT was so high up that books that I read immediately afterwards seem lame. wow.

 

And I too haven't actually written anything yet. Been planning for over 5 months now (and likely will spend another few months). I don't believe in avoiding cliches because that is impossible. A popular belief is that 'farmboy of uncertain parentage becoming saviour of the world' is considered a cliche. But people don't stop to think: WHY is it a farmboy and not a noble prince? Well, a fantasy world is new to the reader and by following a farmboy journey the world unfolds to the reader as well as the main character. But people don't understand and say cliche cliche cliche!

 

But I am working somewhat to avoid the more dominant cliches anyway. I want my story to be utterly unpredictable (like WoT). I was able to predict almost all events that happened in the Belgariad, which is *supposed* to be a good book.

 

Thanks for the illuminator website.

 

;)

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Guest Dreadlord

The only thing good about the Belgariad is that some of the characters are cool. Barak, the protecter, who turns into a frenzied bearman whenever Garion is in danger (and whose son does the same in the next set when Garions sons is in danger), Silk, (my main character has Silk qualities, but very minor, and they arent his main qualities) and Hettar, the coolest fighter who can talk to horses. And dont forget Brill. He was in fact brill, I thought, with his triangular blade that can be thrown around corners.

 

But yea the Belgariad leaves no room for speculation, a pretty basic story really. The follow on set, the Mallorean, is so devoid of action that I almost died of boredom.

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I found the Belgariad so boring that  I didn't bother will the Mallorean. The only reason why I bothered to finish the Belgariad was because I hate leaving books unfinished after starting them. Ironically, my edition of the last book had the last 10 or so pages torn out. So I never got the final conclusion anyway! ;D

 

I heard about the sequel and immediately made a mental note never to touch it. The sad thing is the most prominent bookstore in Sri Lanka stocks all sorts of books by Eddings (several shelves!) but only one copy of any one the WoT books at any on time. Its so annoying when quality authors dont get what the deserve.

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Van Halen...

Springstein...

Alice Cooper...

Mellencamp...

Bob Seeger...

Bob Dylan...

Jimi Hendrix...

Carlos Santana...

Herb Alpert...

Tony Bennet...

T-Bone...

Jannis Joplin...

etc...

etc...

etc...

 

Do the same with authors.

This list is endless.

Just as each musician is considered good by some and not-so-good by others, they are all considered very good within their own "style".

None of them were "born" into that style...it developed with time.

"You are the product of your environment".

If you write with passion as RJ obviously did, in the style that is truely "you" as RJ did, some people will love what you do, others will not.  Same with WoT.

Just as in music, the real trick is to figure out what YOU like and then to hone it into an art form.  Very few people actually achieve that in life.  But, it doesn't hurt to strive for it anyway.

 

Just my two cents worth...hope it is enjoyed by some readers...I know some readers will not enjoy it...OH WELL!!!  ;D

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I am still planning my first novel and intend to write something that no-one will accuse of 'stealing ideas.' However, the WoT is exerting a tremendous pull on my brain and I am currently fighting a war against it, trying to avoid stealing RJ's ideas!!!!!

 

Welcome to the club ;)

 

I think it's perfectly natural for a writer to be influenced by his favorite authors. As others here have said, it's almost impossible to NOT be influenced by others. When you read a piece, that piece becomes a part of your imagination, and as such, anything that comes OUT of that imagination will be impacted by what has been absorbed into it.

 

I've been writing a trilogy of books since 2003, and I sort of went on hiatus after finishing book one (I REALLY need to get back to it!). One of the most difficult things for me to do was create a system of magic that no one else has explored. I mean, think about all the many ways magic has been expressed! You've got D&D's spells, formulae, and incantations. You've got Deathgate's system of runes. You've got Eddings' "the will and the word". You've got RJ's One Power. No matter what direction you go with magic (and by extension, most every other idea expressed in the fantasy genre), you WILL inevitably incorporate little bits and pieces from someone else.

 

Myself, I used RJ's magic system as a template---not in application, but in emulation. I wanted something completely unique, something no one else has... kinda the way RJ does. The end result was very satisfying to me---a system of magic that's was actually birthed by technology. Granted, some small pieces of WoT has made its way into my work---instead of "channeling" I have "wielding"---but overall my system is completely a la Nash.

 

Point is, like DreadPirateRober said, it's not what you say in your story that defines whether you wrote it or whether you "stole the idea". It's HOW you say it. No matter what material you use, your individual talent for storytelling will come through as unique. Granted, we try to keep the material sacred to the original author out of respect, but some of it will inevitably show up in our stories. We can't help it. Like the food you take in and digest, it becomes a part of who you are, and thus, a part of what comes out of you.

 

But hey... your concerns are valid, and I would encourage you to keep vigil over your work. As long as you're trying your best not to carbon copy RJ's work, you can be sure you won't. It's when you DON'T worry about being a copycat that you start to become one.

 

You are all invited to the Illuminators Org. We have a private board called the Scribes Chapter House that is devoted to writers and writing. We work on callaborative stories, poems, and have just introduced a quarterly zine that will feature submissions by writers like yourselves. Occasionaly we have published authors do a Q&A. David B.Coe was our latest guest and Patrick Rothfuss was here last year.

 

We also have another private board called The Critique Circle where everyone submits short stories or excerpts from novels and we all read and critique each other's stuff.

 

At one point, I was a member of one of the Writer's Guild, back before they became the Illuminators. I wonder if my membership transfered over?

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It's impossible to avoid borrowing from someone else's ideas, whether subconsciously or consciously. The best thing to do is simply diversify your reading in the hope that the combined influence of all your reading creates a work entirely it's own.

 

Of course, some of the main concepts should be original. Try not to follow the hero monomyth if you can, maybe try some unconventional techniques (telling a story from both sides, following a hero's journey from the eyes of bystanders, etc). Most importantly, flesh everything out as much as possible before writing and put it all into the text. Generally, all of the characters--including the villains--should seem realistic and somewhat understandable. Give them a clear motive. Don't use the normal spell-type magic system. Place restrictions on it,think about the consequences of magic in society and develop a setting around that. Do the people fear it? Who regulates its use, and how? Is it regulated at all, or has it always been? What would happen if it wasn't or has happened when it wasn't?

 

If you must use elves, etc, the best way is to either create a new name for them, or make your elves completely different from all the rest.

 

And yes, I am an aspiring author.

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Thank You everyone!!!! Its amazing how people I hardly know can be so encouraging when people I know very well are discouraging (more or less). And no, I have no intention whatsoever of putting elves/dwarves etc into my story. The problem is, LOTR is fresh on everyone's mind and when people tend to see the word 'elf' they would likely immediately think of tolkien. I hope to write a piece that people can't trace back to other books.

Of course, it is not possible to write anything 'new.' Even Pullman said somewhere that he took ideas from practically every book/movies he had ever read/watched. The way of writing is the point. But still I don't like it when people accuse authors of 'stealing' ideas (though a very small number of authors DO deserve that criticism).

 

Just another point, is Grandpa G on this website ??:http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

This is an invaluable source of information for authors. Enjoy. :D

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I think as an author, you cannot help but feed off the influences around you. If you trace every great work in writing history, they are really based on older works, which are based on older, which are based on myth and legend. What made those stories great are what those authors did with the materials left by the older stories. What new twists or flavors did they put on the story?

 

To trace all of the influences found in RJ's work would be a book in and of itself. He researched for 4 years before ever writing his first page. The magic system that you see as unique is actually adopted from the Aristotle universe and his idea of the 4 elements (later, the 5th element of Spirit was added). RJ's concept of the Wheel of Time is a Hindu theroy. He borrowed many of the names of the Forsaken from Mystic Jewish demons. Bel Tine celebration is a variant of the Celtic May Pole celebrations which is an offshoot of the Asher pole in the Middle East. I could go on and on.

 

Is the fact that he borrowed these bad? No. It is how he meshed them together and molded them into a seamless coherant and believable story that made it so great.

 

**PS -  I would like to second DPR's suggestion of coming to the Scribes and hang out with the Writer's down there.**

 

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Just another point, is Grandpa G on this website ??:http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

 

I'm not an aspiring author...just a thinking windbag...but, thanks for the compliment.  ;)

 

I did start a novel many, many moons ago...finished several hundered pages...fourteen (?) chapters...first person fiction about a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream, etc.  My mom and baby sister said it was good.  They're still waiting for the finished copy.  They're the only people who have ever read it...my wife was totally not interested...kids were too busy with school, sports, etc.  I lost the passion for the project and haven't touched it in years.  It does explain quite logically why so many people claim to have been abducted by UFO's even under hypnosis (a long forgotten society of scientists living in the remote reaches of the U.S. Western desert have been implanting brain monitoring/contolling mechanisms through their nasal cavities but don't tell anyone because I haven't gotten that far in the book yet...maybe someday?  ::) ).

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