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Monday, July 25, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter

Harry Potter Fanfiction / Pride and Prejudice Mash Ups 

        Harry Potter, now a man and quite wealthy, goes to visit his friend and fellow Hogwarts alumnus Charles Bingley, who has recently taken residence at the manor Netherfield Park.  A neighboring family of witches by the name of Bennet is invited to a party at the mansion at which point Elizabeth, one of the Bennet daughters and a witch with extraordinary powers, is introduced to Harry Potter, a wizard of great renown.   A misunderstanding first occurs, but eventually a romantic relationship develops and together they must battle the forces that are out to destroy them.

        It's a derivative story for sure.  And this particular derivative is not even original with me.  When I Googled the concept that I thought would be mine, I found that others had already come up with the idea.  As they say, there's nothing new under the sun.  Oh sure, there might be slightly new approaches and ideas that seem uniquely original, but there is nothing that is completely new and original.  If there were, we probably wouldn't even understand it.  By necessity one thing leads to another and all things are derived from or related to previously existing ideas.

         To be derivative is not a bad thing, but in deriving one thing from another one needs to paint a bit of oneself into the newly derived creation or at least add some touch that will add some hint of originality.  Personally I don't understand the lure of fan fiction, but I do believe that to make a work of this nature more interesting, a writer needs to tell a different story than the source material or tell the old story in a very different way.  Imitation may come in the form of flattery or even satire, but absolute imitation may be something akin to plagiarism.

Blog Derivatives 

       We've all done something on our blogs that we've seen on other blogs.  The natural tendency is to copy what works, what is successful, or what looks fun or interesting.  There are even basic rules or suggestions for blogging that we have found cited on many blogs, perhaps even our own.  We usually set up our blogs using templates and common formats.  I've been to a few blogs that don't and I usually don't stay long or go back because they are chaotic and that is not for me.

       Bloggers repeat topics, share themes, and participate in blogfests and memes.  The secret is to add something new and different to what is basically the same as what others have done.  How many times have we read blog posts about publishing, querying, or getting an agent?   We keep reading them because each story is told from a different perspective with some new twists thrown in.  If those blog posts were just cut and pastes from previous posts we'd stop reading them pretty quickly and start searching for the bloggers with unique voices.  Hopefully with each new post comes prospects of learning something we didn't know before, reviewing what we need to remember, or being entertained by good writing.

        Many people do round-up posts where they link to interesting posts of the previous week.  One blog that I follow has begun to do this and I was impressed by some of the excellent blog posts she linked to from last week.  If you like this sort of thing, check out Atsiko's Chimney.  She says that her round-up will become a regular feature on her blog for a while at least.  It's a derivative idea, but Atsiko is doing her research and doing the legwork to make finding these posts easier on us.

Another Twist on an Existing Concept

      Most of you probably remember Marcus of Writing Investigated.  If not, Marcus was the creative force behind the navigation buttons that many of you used for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The concept of the buttons was an existing idea that Marcus adapted to be used for the Challenge.  The buttons made it easier to navigate sequentially through the list of participants and fun to randomly find blogs with the "Surprise Me!" button.  This was a derivative concept that was given a unique application.

       Now Marcus has come up with another brainstorm.  Marcus will be my special guest on Wednesday to tell you about an idea that will be of special interest to any of you who have either published a book or plan to in the future.  To make his explanation easier to understand he is preparing a demonstration video to be debuted here on Tossing It Out this Wednesday July 27.  I'm looking forward to seeing what he's come up with.  I hope you will join us.

       Are you a fan of Fanfiction?   Do you have any favorite fiction derivatives?   Can you think of something you've read that was absolutely original?   Do you think it's possible to create anything absolutely, uniquely new and original?   Do you adapt well to new technology or do you have Luddite tendencies like I do?



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41 comments:

Madeleine said...

Love this post. At college we were constantly told there is no such thing as an original idea.
I'm not keen on derivatives, like you I want something new. Harry Potter has 'influences' like Tolkein and others which is quite different and she's woven it all into a unique story.
I'm excited about Weds post with Marcus :O)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee .. I'm not sure I'd like the derivatives - though I'm sure a star with shine out from the masses of others.

I'm looking forward to Marcus' ideas .. as his A - Z buttons were good ones, even if I didn't use them!

Cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never read or written fanfiction. I know the story idea for my first book wasn't unique, but hope I put a new spin on the idea.
I do hope my blog is unique though. Most writers post tips and such, but I don't often venture into writing posts. I'm sure some writers hit my blog and think yeah, right, and keep moving.

Cristina said...

I'm a new blogger and new follower. I really enjoyed your post today on Blog Derivatives. I am still feeling my way with my blog. However, I am trying to keep changes to a minimum. I look forward to reading more of your post.

Julie said...

Interesting post, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday's post with Marcus. I am one who loved his A-Z buttons! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not good with new tech stuff - takes me a while to get there :)

I did write a Star Trek story a looooong time ago. I wrote it just for fun and I don't have a clue what happened to it :)

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

It's true, I've yet to see a brand new idea. But, that's ok as long as we give our creative minds the opportunity to take the old ideas and make them our own. Even Harry Potter was an old idea but with a fantastic writer behind it became amazing.

Great blog post today, by the way.

T

L.G.Smith said...

I've never written fanfiction either, but I was starting to get interested in your mash up. :P

Roxie said...

Regarding originality: In the knitting world, we talk about, "unventing" something. This is when we take our existing knowledge and skills to find a new way to solve a problem, only to discover at a later date that others have done the same thing already. Your solution is in no way derivative, but, due to the requirements of the puzzle, there is sometimes only one elegant solution. With stories, there are certain situations which demand certain progressions and resolutions, or you really don't have a story. Boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Not much story there. Blind boy meets deaf girl, they overcome their communication difficulties and live happily ever after - there's a story! And if they don't overcome their communication difficulties, that won't make much of a story either, so sometimes the nature of the project requires only one elegant solution, but it's up to the writer (or knitter) to determine the material used, the way it is colored, the scale of the work, the initial set-up ans final finishing. There is no new thing under the sun, but it's as original as you dare to make it.

Arlee Bird said...

Madeleine -- I think we are all influenced by some existing style and those who we are influenced by have their own influences. I don't think it could be otherwise.

Hilary -- Derivations based on previously existing works and idea can be very creative and helpful. Usually it goes beyond tribute and becomes an extension of a legacy or an improvement of the work from with the new thing has been derived.

Alex -- Stories based on old ideas are what makes up genres I think. Your blog has your voice and that gives it uniqueness that your readers like to find on your blog page.

Cristina -- Welcome to my blog. I think it's okay to learn from other bloggers and emulate what they do as long as you put your personal stamp on it and give credit where it is due.

Julie -- I'm also looking forward to what Marcus has come up with. I'm not sure I'll understand it very well, but I'm willing to listen.

Jemi -- I've never tried writing fan fiction, but I can see how it would be a good writing exercise.

Teresa - There are 26 letters in our alphabet and 7 whole notes in the musical scale, but they can be combined in infinite ways and our unique vision and personality makes the creations special.

L.G. -- Yeah, I thought I had a unique mash up there, but then saw on Google that others have touched upon the idea. Maybe my spin was unique, but I don't guess I'm going to pursue it much. Using Harry Potter was partly an exercise in Search Engine Optimization.

Roxie -- you have stated this eloquently--and correctly I think.

Lee

Suze said...

I like originals.

Ivy Bliss said...

Wow...as a fan of both HP and Mr Darcy, um, Pride and Prejudice, I'm not entirely sure about this. Creative, yes. WRONG...maybe...?
But I'm purist. I am not a fan of fan-fiction. But, I also know it is huge and gets people writing...so who am I to judge? That's all that matters, really.
As always, Lee, your writing is fantastic and ideas are awesome. I will be back on Wednesday! :)

~Ivy

www.visionsoftlycreeping.blogspot.com
and
www.ivygrowsinthekitchen.blogspot.com

Karen Walker said...

Lol, too many questions to answer this early in the morning. I will look forward to Marcus's new idea. I stole one of Alex Cavanaugh's ideas on my blog today - having a separate page to showcase fellow authors and their books. It is the sincerest form of flattery, or something to that effect.
Karen

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Over here It's Potter Mania. every Saturday a film of his in being shown on TV, plus how they celebrated the last Harry Potter film.

I spent the week-end looking through possible poems for my next book, I am getting excited about it, my first has started selling on Amazon again which is nice to hear and see.

Take care Lee.
Yvonne.

Arlee Bird said...

Suze -- The originals are hard to replace or outdo.

Ivy -- Thanks for the kind words. I guess the fan fiction serves its purpose for certain groups of people.

Karen -- If it's a good idea and it's not trademarked, copyrighted, or something like that I guess we can all feel okay using it.

Yvonne -- Good to hear that the old book is back in circulation and a new book is coming. Wishing you great success with it.

Lee

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

has anyone come up with Harry Potter and Pippi Longstockings, or, Harry Potter and Nancy Drew? Now there's an evil connection for you.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>..."How many times have we read blog posts about publishing, querying, or getting an agent?"

Too damn many times, if you ask me!

I wish people would stop writing about writing and just WRITE.

But it appears I stand pretty much alone in that opinion.

Check it out!: I have an "ORIGINAL" opinion. Ha!

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Maurice Mitchell said...

Original or not, it still made me laugh. Pretty well thought out too...

Ann Best said...

I think a memoir is the only "absolutely, uniquely new and original" thing. Each individual is unique, so each individual life story is unique. Now, how it is written is another thing....

At my age, I do not adapt well to new technology! But hey, I did do Blogger, and managed to learn WordPress--with a little help!

I'm not a fan of Fanfiction, and not much into fantasy either. But a good fantasy...every time I start reading Harry Potter and see how wonderfully well it's written, I tell myself I've got to read all the books. It seems like everyone has read them, including my grandchildren. I think I had better get with it.

Thanks for a great post, Lee, and for stopping by MY blog today. I love your analysis of Jen's Dr. Vacuum and Nurse Broom.
Ann Best, Author of In the Memoir, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Arlee Bird said...

Delores -- Haven't seen those yet, but why not. People should jump on the bandwagon while the music's playing loud.

StephenMcC-- In all fairness, those posts are not written for readers like you, but for the readers who are interested in those topics. There are plenty of blogs out there that talk about similar things to other blogs whether it be music, knitting, politics, or what have you. If someones's interested in the topic they may enjoy reading different takes or even the same rehashing of the same topics. I'm not going to knock anyone for what they write about, but I might be critical of how it is written.

Maurice -- I'll gladly pass the idea on to you so you can run with it.

Ann -- I'd say a memoir still has to use a pre-existing formula for the presentation of one's unique life. I can read just about anything if it is written in a readable style.

Lee

atsiko said...

Thanks for the linky. :)

I have written some fanfiction in the past, mostly before I really got into writing my own original stories, and it was pretty fun. It kept me writing on a regular basis, and I think I managed to put out a chapter a week for 14 weeks and a total of some ~300 pages. A lot of that was because while many writers of original fiction are running solo most of the time, fanfiction has an enormous community of writers and readers and runs mostly on a serial basis, and you can always find a few loyal readers who will push you to keep going.

I can think of some things I've read where the main premise or high concept was absolutely original, but since we're all writing from the same background for the most part--this one little planet and our humanity--you're going to have a lot in common with other works. You can't be completely original because you must play off that shared background if you want other people to understand your creation, but you can be original with the parts of the work not drawn from our shared conciousness.

I adapt well to new technology when I make the decision to, but every time something new comes out, it takes me awhile to decide that it's worth the investment of my time, and also to get over my often then obsolete investment in the previous technology.

The Golden Eagle said...

Your title caught my eye--I recently finished reading a zombies/Austen mash-up.

I'm not really into fanfiction. I prefer leaving a story the way the author left it; and I've read about a few instances where there were legal issues as well . . .

Looking forward to upcoming the post! Those were very handy buttons.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I just blogged on this topic last week! If you want to check out my post, it is here.

notesfromnadir said...

Until I entered the blogosphere I'd not read the term meme before!

Nothing's new, much as we like to think it is.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

BOIDMAN ~

>>..."In all fairness, those posts are not written for readers like you"

AHHH... Well, that explains it then.

>>..."I'm not going to knock anyone for what they write about"

You don't NEED to, because I already DID that. Attempting it NOW would not be a very "original" act on your part. (One has to get up pretty early in the morning to get the drop on ME! ;o)

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Lynda R Young said...

I'm a luddite through and through, but that's why I married an IT manager. ;)
Also not a fan of fan fiction. It always seems to lack the spark of the original. I do enjoy the occasional amusing mash-up though.

Joanne said...

I feel like I still have lots and lots to learn about the blogging world. I don't really like fan fiction much.
Blessings, Joanne

Arlee Bird said...

Atsiko -- Thanks for stopping by. I think writing fan fiction could be a great exercise in working with characters and scenarios that are already developed. And you're correct that we must write within what is common to our intended audience, otherwise we may not have an audience.

Golden Eagle -- I really enjoyed the PP & Zombie mash-up. I've also heard about the legal issues that I guess don't arise unless you publish a fan fiction without permission to use characters.

Julie -- Enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for stopping by.

Lisa -- Meme is one of many new terms I learned when I started blogging.

StephenMcC -- You're just a cantankerous old curmudgeon. And I know, I'm older than you.

Lynda -- I can't see me getting into fan fiction either, and mash-ups could get old after a while, but they are fun.

Joanne -- I know what you mean--there is always so much more to learn.

Lee

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Back in the days when writing was just a hobby of mine, and not a creative outlet meant for publication, I read a fanfic tale or two. Nowadays I steer clear of the stuff. Because no matter how good the fanfic might be, it just doesn't compare with the original voice of the intellectual property's initial creator.

And voice is next to impossible to emulate in my humblest of opinions.

Donna said...

I like the mash up.

As far as fan fiction goes, I like originality.

walk2write said...

I guess I was writing fan fiction before it was cool. Back in the day (I think it was 1969 when I was 9 years old), I wrote my own version of a Winnie the Pooh story and even illustrated it. Still have it somewhere in a box. Maybe I'll post it or maybe not. I might get sued or accused of plagiarism:(

Regarding that nothing new under the sun thing, good ol' Solomon was pretty wise, except when it came to women. When he got a hankering for a new and improved one, he should have remembered his most famous maxim.

Talli Roland said...

I'm not a fan of, er, fan fiction. If I see something I like on someone's blog, chances are I will file it away in the back of my head, though.

Ciara said...

What a great mash up. I'm intrigued and will return tomorrow for the vlog.

Hart Johnson said...

Great post, Lee!

I got my writing legs under me in fan fiction (Harry Potter), and I've seen it done WELL and I've seen it done poorly (barely changing the story). I think the NICE thing about it is you can learn a few lessons at a time instead of having to learn them all at once. You can create 2 or 3 original characters and then have them interact with already developed characters... that kind of thing. My first one was the story of Eileen Prince (Snape's mum) and I used the little information on HISTORY to select some plot points (creating a timeline I couldn't break) took what we know about SNAPE and created rationale, and then I overlaid the plot I wanted onto it--extremely helpful for learning how to plot because it became more of a puzzle and less a blank slate.

And I completely agree that we see blogs on the same topics all the time, but it is the personal twist that might finally reach through and speak to us...

becca said...

i love fanfiction and i have several people who write them that i totally adore.

Arlee Bird said...

Jeffrey -- I'm not even sure where to find fanfiction, but then again I haven't been looking.

Donna -- I must admit I kind of like the concept of this mash-up, but I don't guess I'm going there.

Walk -- With Solomon it was a case of "do as I say and not as I do". I think Pooh, or his owners I should say, tend to be pretty litigious so you might be careful with that one.

Talli -- If it's a good idea it probably wasn't original with the blog where you saw and if you're not sure you can always ask permission and give proper credit.

Ciara -- I'll be interested in the reaction to Marcus's guest post.

Hart -- I thought of you when I wrote this since you have mentioned writing fan fiction in the past. I agree that it can be a great learning tool and exercise in writing.

Lee

Arlee Bird said...

becca -- So where do you find this fanfiction? Is it commercially available in books, on websites, or passed around among other fans?

Lee

sue said...

I used the buttons and thought they were excellent. Thanks Marcus! I tried to read one fanfiction book, and hated it, never tried again.

I've had a look at other blogs from people in the same line of work as me, but they don't resonate. I feel much more at home (and stretched as a blogger) with the people I rub shoulders with here.

Sue

MizB said...

My latest favorite derivative was Gabriella Poole's "Darke Academy" series. It's another set of books with teenagers, and a high-school setting. But with this series, each "term", the school moves to a new locale: first it was India, then Paris, then New York... a nice twist on an old plot. :D

Speaking of blogs, I personally love when another's blog post sparks my creativity, and gives me something to blog about, too! I often find others' blog posts to be useful in giving me ideas for questions to ask in my Musing Mondays posts. :D

~MizB

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>..."You're just a cantankerous old curmudgeon. And I know, I'm older than you."

Ha! :o)
Hey, what can I say?
It's a known fact that...
"GROUCHES DO IT BITTER!"

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Wendy. Blog Author said...

the most obvious derivative for me was when I did my review policy Arleen and I just accepted that it has to be done because I could not come up with one original though and thankfully, two bloggers were so generous with theirs. They are mentioned on my policy.