Monday, July 19, 2010

Hollywood wins again.

Pre-emptive apology: this post is a bit whiny. It could even be construed as arrogant. I'm sorry if it comes off that way -- mainly I'm just frustrated with Hollywood and their inconsiderate ways. Why must they persist in coming out with so many movies that are similar to my own, unpublished stories?

I know. It's happened to all us would-be writers. Still stings, though.

So one of my very first story ideas ever, and we're talking many years ago, was about this shapeshifting, liquid metal I called 'Omnipotanium'. Not long after writing a short story with that title, the movie Terminator II came out, and they had the super cool, shapeshifting metal robot guy.

A few years later I was writing a story where a man with an incredibly vibrant, rewarding life wakes up and finds he's actually lived his whole life in a pod on a space-ship, and that the life he'd thought he'd lived was a fantasy pumped into his mind. Remind you of anything? That's right. "The Matrix." That movie actually came out before I was finished, so I quit on page seventy-something. The rest of my story was different enough; there's this benevolent, alien race transporting the remnants of the humanity to a new, unspoiled planet, the trip is multi-generational, so the fantasies are just their way of giving the sleepers some semblence of a quality-of-life.

Here's my point. If I'd finished that story, and somehow gotten it published, the world would have always assumed I'd ripped-off of The Matrix. At least in part.

But wait, there's more:
  • circa 1992. I wrote a 700 page behemeth about the challenges of being a young sorceror's apprentice. And we all know what young sorceror hit the scene a few years later.
  • My tenth book, Fiersom's Brood was about a group of teenagers that develop mental powers, and I tried my hardest to make all of their powers original and unique, and then the TV series 'Heroes' hit the air. And yeah, they must've had access to my notebooks because pretty much all of my 'originality' found its way into the show.
  • And, as many of you know, I've been trying to write a 'future-of-gaming' book for more than three years now. I'm up to seven different versions of it, and one of the early ones was suspiciously similar to 'Gamer' with Gerard Butler.

So here is my latest discouragement: I started a book last summer that I've been working on off and on (it's up to about 170 pages) that I'm tentatively calling 'Oneironaut'. I've blogged a bit about this one. It's about a team of dream researchers that pair up two teenage boys who are gifted, 'lucid dreamers'. The idea is that they're supposed to link up in other people's dreams as a cutting edge form of dream therapy. Then there's some other stuff about artifacts that can be carried from the dream world into the waking world, but nobody's going to remember that bit. Not now that 'Inception' is making such a big splash. For those of you who don't care to click the link, you could probably guess what the basic concept is about -- people with the ability to connect in other people's dreams.

So now I'm bummed. And you know? I think I just need to break into publishing ASAP -- before I run out of marketable ideas.

25 comments:

Kelly said...

You one guy with a million cool and original ideas! You will think of more.
But really, how many times and ways has Cinderella been done? (not to compare Cinderella to the Terminator) But my point is, you can have a general idea that is the same and totally make it your own (and better).
And you will and probably have!
I've never even heard of the movie Gamers btw. Is it coming out or already released?

Monica said...

I heard Stephen King talking about his latest book "The Dome", which he actually started back in the 80's, i think. When it was done, his sister in law asked him 'isnt this like that Simpsons movie?'... you can make it your own, Ray.

Ray Veen said...

Kelly -- You make a good point, and thanks for the encouragement. 'Gamer' came out about two years ago, I think. And to be honest, my ideas are sufficiently different that no-one will ever think of 'Gamer' when they read my books. Still sucks that they nabbed the 'future of gaming' concept.

Monica -- Thanks. And you're probably right. I should tell you though, that 'nuts and bolts'-wise, I'm not a great writer. All I've really got going for me are my story ideas, and I hate to see them get 'done' before I can 'do' them.

After The Blackbird Sings said...

Someday you'll get published and crush someone else's dreams by using a plot they also dreamed up.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

You're probably just hyper-sensitive to that sort of thing. I know any time I pick up a book that has anything similar to one of mine I freak out and wonder if I should remove said similar thing. But in reality, most people won't even make the connection.

It would help, though, if you quit ripping off such popular movies. My suggestion: steal ideas from books nobody reads.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

ha! I agree you got to break into publishing soon and just think of that poor Hollywood person that will be left holding an imitation of your brilliant idea in their hands. Srsly, I think you must have the next big thing just about on the page considering your track record.

Ray Veen said...

Ben -- hells yeah.

Paul -- you might like my book about the seventeen year old who travels to northern Michigan on vacation with his parents. It's funny as hell.

Tina -- I hope you're right. So has this happened to you?

Lily Cate said...

yeah... I was working on a novel about a girl who poses as a guy to act at the Globe when Shakespeare in Love came out. At least I liked the movie. It's been long enough now that I might be able to go back to that one.

Lucky for us, it's not the idea as much as the execution. I spent the first act of Inception thinking "The Matrix did this better."
You'll always be compared to something.

K. M. Walton said...

There are no new ideas out there -- at least that's what I've heard a gazillion times. So, just keep writing and writing. But I'm sure I don't have to tell you that. You're a writer.

I'm reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman and it is freaking incredible. It's Harry Potter for grownups. Imagine the amount of times Lev had to hear the comparisons. The way he writes, I imagine he probably just put a certain finger up and told them all to suck it.

Ray Veen said...

Lily Cate -- You make a good point. So tell me, how does one get to your blog? I've tried a few times.

KM -- That is so true. Still sucks when it happens.

Anita said...

I think a lot of people panic over this sort of thing...I've heard it so much lately. Really, by the time the characters are different and the setting is different and blah, blah, it's a totally different story.

Catherine Stine said...

Funny you should be consternating over this, and over Inception. A student of mine just gave me a copy of Ghost in a Shell, one in the anime series (from the 90s?). I couldn't believe how similar some of the ideas were to Inception. It made me feel like Inception was ripped from Ghost in a Shell.
I agree with another person who said, you can totally make it your own. It only proves that the dream world has become hot material. Go for it!

Heather Kelly said...

Crap. This happened to me this week. The opening scene of my novel looks an awful lot like a scene in a popular movie right now--and while I'm fine changing it, I would hate to think that this movie which was not on my radar until now, influenced the scene. Urgh.

Tracey said...

This as happened to me a few times, fortunately I'm not writing a whole lot right now, so it's not an issue! LOL

BTW, I have a new blog if you're interested in taking a look. It's not about writing, but you still might find it occasionally entertaining ...
http://crookedcottagechronicles.blogspot.com/

蕙春蕙春 said...

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Ray Veen said...

Anita -- You're right, of course. In fact, I'm mostly over it. Writing this post helped.

Catherine -- Thanks a lot. It truly is almost impossible to have a completely original idea, I just don't want my similar idea to take place so close to Inception's release. Welcome to the blog.

Heather -- I feel your pain, sister.

Tracey -- I'll check out your new blog, but I sure hope you're not giving up on writing or anything like that.

Sarah J Clark said...

You should just move to Hollywood. Break down their doors. Make it happen, yo.

Tracey said...

Haven't given up writing, just been severely neglecting it. Hoping the new blog will help get me going again. I figure any writing is better than none.

王彥李威昌霖 said...

It is easier to get than to keep it.......................................................................

Frank Baron said...

Thanks a LOT, Ray!!

I was going to rant about the EXACT SAME topic in my next blog post!!




:)

Ray Veen said...

Sarah -- I'll tell 'em Sarah sent me.

Tracy -- Blogging does loosen up those 'expressing-yourself-in-writing' muscles. I've almost forgotten how to do that.

Frank -- Add your voice unto mine, brother.

瓊夏富 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................................

K. M. Walton said...

Ray, gave you a blog award in an effort to cheer you up :)

凱v胡倫 said...

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movie gamers said...

Hollywood never ends