Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Overcoming The Fear of Plagiarism

Can a writer ever feel a sense of peace that their work will never be stolen?  Recently I've read articles which seem to make light of new inexperienced writers concerned about their work being plagiarized. Some even marvel at the very thought of how new writers could be so naive as to think that they've brought forth and created some new original idea noting that multiple numbers of scripts come across their desks which are similar. What's the truth concerning this issue?  Are upstart writers being extreme walking in paranoia in regard to sharing their ideas with the concerns of its being stolen? You could say that I'm writing this to myself as well by asking all many various questions to get a sense of what course of action should be taken--to withhold creative work or not to withhold---that is the question. 

Quite frankly I've heard interesting arguments from both sides and see no valid reason to suggest that there isn't.  First, is it true that there are many ideas in coming up with a story line which is similar? Most certainly. Is it presumptuous to consider that one has come up with an original concept whether it be a novel or screenplay? Somewhat, but we must define what's meant. To say there are only so many story lines one can write about is true. Various genre may include drama, mystery, romance, or science-fiction---the list can go on and on. Within each genre it could be said you're going to have the continual mix of the same protagonist verses the antagonist. To say however there doesn't involve a certain sense of uniqueness in the playing out of the details I'd say is not valid.

To illustrate there might very well be many stories using the doomed ship, 'Titanic' as it's theme. To release a novel prior to the movie release with the characters of Rose DeWitt Bukater, Jack Dawson and Cal Hockley and with the precise dialogue each one of them speak would in my opinion be pure plagiarism. Writing a story however about the doomed ship Titanic, with even a little romance mixed in, as seen in the Cameron, Titanic could never be said to be the theft, at least not in my court. Once again plagiarism needs defined. What some consider as having been stolen  may not be theft at all. Consider the film classic, "The Wizard Of Oz." It's been suggested by some that George Lucas stole it to create, "Star Wars."

There are interesting similarities between Dorothy's and Princess Leia. You had Dorothy's little dog, To To, and Princess Leia had R2DT. You had the Tin Man and you had C3P0. You had the Lion and you had Chewbacca. You had Dorothy  locked up in the witches castle and you had Princess Leia needing rescued from the Death Star war ship. You had the witch and in Star Wars you had Darth Vader. You had various similarities but their characters are played out in slightly different ways. A story that was stolen? I'd say not and I'd hardly say one could claim plagiarism. With a considerable amount of exact dialogue and names being the same a clear argument could however be made  that certain things have been lifted from other authors.

Some writers ask the question why does it really matter if a work is stolen. The reasoning here would be a writer needs to get their talent out there and at least you're being recognized  by the ones with power.  One never knows,  perhaps a day would come where they give you a call desiring you on their team.  Some might resign themselves to the pros of accepting such .  The thought would be not to seek to capitalize  on any one particular piece of work but to rather to get one's writing style out there receiving exposure. If another however would find such a unpalatable  approach  then to publish screen play ideas through novels or short stories and selling the download as an ebook; one might find that the best way to ensure they'll sleep at night, and find the elusive sense of  peace.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Story And Not The Tricks!

Many movie producers of yesteryear can teach their present counterparts a thing or two concerning the art of good story telling. They knew the ultimate issue was to tell an entertaining story and were light on the tricks in doing so. Not so today.  We have special effects galore.  Don't misunderstand me I'm not opposed to the sensational advancements that's  achieved in filmology  but I would however strongly suggest an unwise degree of the use of such  can perhaps be counter-productive--to the end-- the story takes the back seat.

The special effects....the props and the great many visual supports portray in as real way as possible how something in reality would appear. I'd question it's importance yes even in regard to films  meant to be visually exciting. While a certain measure of graphic imagery can be fine at what point does it become rather a distraction--or can it ever be said to be that at all? I'd say yes in the affirmative. Special effects departments can create wonders but I'd put a far more focus on leaving most things to the power of the imagination. I'd contend that by forcing people to imagine it could be said that you're involving and engaging one's audience making them feel like a participant in the drama---in other words you're not putting them to sleep. 

Wouldn't it be  a better way  to leave a few of the blanks open allowing  viewers to fill them in as they see fit? To cite one example, the 1948 film, "The Rope" we see this demonstrated.  The story goes a couple of college students sought to justify the committing of a  homicide of a fellow  student to their professor. He comes to the realization that they've  placed the corpse--the victim of their crime in a chest a few feet away.  The professor walks over to the chest, swings it open and the next shot we see his shocked expression as he looks within upon its gruesome contents. 

Keep in mind the body is never seen and it's left totally over to the power of the imagination . I recall the late, Jimmy Stewart discussing this film.  He stated people all the time would tell him they'd swear that they saw a body in the box--but nope they did not. All was left to the imagination. They got so caught up in the story their minds filled in the blanks. Would not achievng such an effect subliminally be for the most part more effective not to mention a lot less expense on the film makers budget?  

In doing a body in the box scene today modern film makers would have us look down into the eyes of some rotted out corpse.  Would it be surprising that ones who like to take realism to the extreme may want some day to have the smell and scent of decay to be sent out  the air vents of your  viewing theatre?  Could patrons at a certain point in the future say quite literally that a particular movie stunk?  One might say that such could be acceptable as long as it was followed by a lovely fragrance of flowers. Even so I'd hope not. I wouldn't want to take the chance, knowing my stomach like I do and none would be too keen wanting to gaze upon and smell my chow eaten  a brief span of time before. It might stink but I guess I could tell you it's just a part of the movie.