Steffanie

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Writing: Immitation vs Innovation?

    Originality is valued in every art form; setting yourself apart with new original ideas or forms. Is imitative writing or fan fiction discredited from greatness? Does innovation and creation take precedence over quality? What is more important to qualify a writer and classify their work as literature?

    • Interesting topic! It could be extended to drawing and filmmaking, or any other art actually. Students that copy their masters to learn and find their own way, but then how can they detach themselves from their style? It's an important question – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 5 years ago
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    • I believe that fan fiction takes an authors writing someplace that the author themselves cannot go. And adds a deeper breadth of insight regarding the characters in a story. – terry6020 5 years ago
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    • If I find the time between other articles, I might just take this up. In my opinion, fan fiction is a valuable tool to get started. Imitation is not bad inherently as long as it's done right. These days, originality is hard to come by simply because most people see originality as 'new' and strictly 'new.' This is wrong. Originality is 'new form.' A new way of doing something that has been done before. In that sense, imitation is the starting point and at the end leads to innovation and originality. That's y two cents. – SpectreWriter 5 years ago
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    • I think it's C.S.Lewis or Tolkien who writes about designing a new leaf in relation to originality in stories. What are genres and why do we have favourite ones? They are all kind of the same, but also a little different. When does something become "just a rip off of that which came before it" "are there only seven or so basic different stories to be told"? It seems to me innovation is taking precedence over quality in today's culture because people are willing to publish smut because it's new (mostly because no one was willing to publish smut before). When it comes to fanfiction there's also a quality barrier that could be explored, who is appreciating and expanding on the universe in a unique individual way and who is just being a lazy writer using another person's already developed characters to tell a simple meaningless story? – Slaidey 5 years ago
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    • This is an extremely interesting topic given the fact that one of the creative writing techniques taught in high schools today deals with imitating the craft of legendary authors. I think it is extremely hard to be innovative when people, especially writers who are most likely readers as well, are constantly in contact with others and interacting with the craft of other writers and readers. I think that most of the time, depending on the situation and writing style, innovation and creation do not take precedence over quality. On the other hand, having a unique voice as a writer is important to establishing and classifying their work as art or literature. – Morgan Muller 5 years ago
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    • This could chime in well with a consideration of how attitudes to writing & originality have changed over time. Centuries back it was much more accepted to lift themes and stories from others' work, Shakespeare did it a hell of a lot, for example. Copyright laws especially have made originality at the forefront of importance in comparison to copying/being inspired by dominant stories, themes, characters, and styles. Could also have something to do with the emphasis on individuality in Western cultures. – Camille Brouard 5 years ago
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    Latest Comments

    Great article! McCarthy’s book really demonstrates how beauty, tenderness, love and hope are still possible amidst total destruction and complete desolation. Powerful bond between father and son, and their will to survive and look after each other.

    Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: Death, Love, and a Dying Earth

    I love Austen and each one of her novels. However, despite there being genuine instances of love / romance in each of her stories, I found Austen’s themes to be less about real love and romance, but rather a social commentary on marriage as a means of upward mobility. More specifically on gender inequality in the 19th C, because for the female characters, a good marriage was their only means of improving their class / status in society, and thus their standard of living. As if none of her heroines had nothing better to do than try and find a husband with some money. These characters are often contrasted with those who do find true love…however…even these men are all still conveniently handsome and rich. On the surface, sure. These are great love stories that make us feel good. Below the surface Austen is using her writing as a critique on Victorian society, and was challenging norms and the status quo.

    How Jane Austen Taught Us Romance Should Be

    I think the quality of a piece of writing far outweighs originality. Shakespeare, who is arguably one of the greatest writers in English history, used unoriginal plots for most of his plays, yet it is his version of the story most of us remember to this day because of his mastery of language and his ability to re-create his own unique version of a familiar story. I believe that true originality is almost impossible. Inspiration for plots and characters can come from one source, or they can be made up of bits and pieces of a thousand sources. Is one more original than the other? Good characters and plots are good because they are identifiable to readers, making them common and unoriginal. Therefore, it is not the plots and characters themselves that are as important as how they are portrayed to make them believable.

    Fanfiction: The Merits of Originality