Originally Posted by Mully
Has anyone else realized how much a certain work of fiction has influenced your own work after completion? As I finished my plot outline yesterday I realized how similar it is to Catcher in the Rye and War Junkie. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. I'm not calling back to them. In fact, most of the plot points are from my own experiences. They're ripped from my memory and given a new character who's extremely similar to me.
Am I doing this wrong?
I know my worldbuilding is heavily influenced by my favorite works of fiction (be they games, books or films). Perhaps too much so, i often start from scratch when i examine my plans and realize they're kitchen sinks made up from my favorites.
The end result might not be bad, or even unoriginal (because the combination may be fresh or unusual) but it feels too much like copying things. Might be just in my head really then? Of course, nothing i do is final in any way.
Unfortunately things i try to make up without/with minimal outside influences do not feel good. Perhaps i'm just very critical of my own ideas.
My plot ideas are also strongly influenced on my favorites, often i see possibilities in certain points. "What if...?", and "This could have been done better".
In any case, i feel it is natural to be influenced by other media, other works. Everyone does this. I'd argue this may even be a good idea, one could take the same premise another work has but build it to another direction. Similar worlds, like the "over-represented" "medieval European fantasy world" are easy to make and are easy to approach for the writer and reader alike. Some classic plots are kind of timeless, if done right (like the Hero's Journey, Star Wars being excellent example of it, while not being the first to do it). As long as plagiarism is avoided, and the new work has something fresh in it.
As for "author avatar
" type character, i'd warn against such. There's a risk they become a mary sue, or some kind of wish-fulfillment thing too easily if they're strongly based on the author, people do like making idealized versions of themselves (Naturally, there is a place for these in certain genres, i think (i'd imagine erotic and romantic works run on these, and may be profitable too, looking at this thread)).
But as long as one is careful and critical, this should't be an issue. And smaller elements of self may be good even, if you're aware of your quirks, they might suit some characters easily.
But this is just my take on this, and i will reiterate that i merely warn against the dangers of this. (Also, as a reader, i really don't care for mary sues and wish-fulfillment. But perhaps that's just me.)