Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games: Inspiration vs Plagiarism

One of the most popular movies in America right now is The Hunger Games. A critic said of the book that it was part The Most Dangerous Game, Lord of the Flies and the TV show Survivor.

This struck a chord with me because it’s been said there are no more original stories—just recycled ones. That’s a fairly pessimistic view and one that could quite intimidating to inspiring authors.

I’ll openly admit I’ve been influenced by different books, movies, characters and such in what I’ve written. Having said that, I have never consciously plagiarized anything. Yet, there times when I’ll be re-watching a favorite movie or TV show, or rereading book when I’ll come across something that inspired me. It may be something someone said, or perhaps a sequence of events—yet I can draw a line between it and something I’ve written.

When this first started happening, I’ll have to admit I was concerned. Was I a fraud? Was I just taking other people’s ideas and recycling them? However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to a conclusion: the significant difference is intention.

In writing The Hidden Sun, I fully intended to create an original story. Are there certain elements and characters that are familiar? Yes. Were these copied with the intention to get gain from someone else’s work? No.

I enjoy including metaphors in my books. In The Hidden Sun, there is a scene where a gardener creates a tree sculpture that he calls “joy”. The owner of the garden doesn’t see it. The tree relates to the book I was writing and the owner represents those who thought it a foolish pursuit.

In my upcoming book, The Waxing Moon, there is a character named Bearach. He’s a crafter with a gift for mechanics. I’d be lying if I didn’t say he was somewhat inspired by MacGyver.

In the scene where he is introduced, Bearach demonstrates to the king and queen an invention of sorts. After they observe it, the king and queen ask how he came up with such an idea. Bearach’s answer was that he took elements he was familiar with and combined them into something new.

In a sense, I believe that is what most, if not all writers do.

So, does The Hunger Games have elements of The Most Dangerous Game, Lord of the Flies and the TV show Survivor?


Is it a wholly unique book?

I for one would say yes.


  1. I agree. As authors we're inspired by everything we see in life, including what we read and watch. We might use familiar concepts in our writing, but then we take those ideas and go our own way with them, creating something new as you've said.

  2. I just ordered it, haven't read it yet. But what I found on the web is that some people claim it's actually very similar to the Battle Royale.

    I'll decide after I read both, but since you are asking this question it'd be interesting if you compare to this book too.