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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Old Fart and the Lake

I've just come across a brilliant book idea. I'm dying to share it with you.

It involves and old man - more of an old fart really - who lives as a fisherman. He fishes daily on, let's say, Lake Superior. His only friend is a young boy, no change that, a young girl. The old fart is hapless, thus the young girl watches after him. Let's call the old man San Diego, and the young girl Marolin. 

One day San Diego goes out fishing and catches a large...fish. Some kind of fish you find in the Great Lakes. Perhaps a salmon or a lake trout. The fish drags him around for days in Superior. And in doing so the old fart discovers the true meaning of his life - perhaps all life.

The other fish, of course, chomp away at his catch after he hauls its corpse to the side of his boat. By the time he gets back to his home port, most of the fish is gone. Marolin finds the remnants of the fish - skeletal mostly - attached to the port side of his small boat, and goes in search of the old man. She finds him at his small dingy home, asleep. Sitting near him, she smiles and allows his slumber to continue unabated.

I tell you: This is going to be a HIT, a true CLASSIC!

Copyright Offender, Plagiarist, or Hack

You decide. Which one am I. No doubt you recognize my story, a whale of a tale of fishing adventure. All due regards to Mr. Hemingway, mine might be better. But - and this is important - it's not mine, literally or figuratively.

Old Man and the Sea was written by Hemingway in 1951. According to the Copyright Laws of that time, his work is protected for 95 years from publication date. As such, I am in violation of the law for publishing something he wrote under my name. 

But, if I'm clever and adapt it enough I'm not really republishing his creation; I'm enhancing it, making it better - Right?

To be a plagiarist, according to the Dictionary, I would have to do the following:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
Okay, maybe that's what I'll be - a plagiarist. But can you really steal an idea? I mean hundreds, thousands have written cheesy romance novels throughout the years. And most of them revolve around two or three different plots. Are they, everyone but the originals, plagiarists?

A Hack
Most likely this is the one that all people would default to - a least their opinions would center around this fact. I'd be called unoriginal, dull, dimwitted. And for the most part they would be correct. I mean am I that lazy that I can't think up a decent plot on my own? 

If it was my first novel, it would no doubt be my last (at least under that pen name). Even if it was my fifteenth novel, who would dare purchase anything from me again? I'd be finished in the writing world.

A However
But there are those who take classics and give them new twists. To do this they painstakingly rewrite the base plot and insert their own ideas. Seth Grahame-Smith has done a wonderful job with this. Consider some of his works: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Seth has created a whole new genre almost, combining the classics (which we've all read - right?) and some current popular ideas.

So it can be done. All throughout the art (creation) world it can work. Maybe...

Next week I'll do a little contrasting and comparing with other areas of art: Movies, Paintings, and my personal favorite - Song covers.

Until next time, perhaps give one of Seth's many titles a try...you might enjoy it.

e a lake