How does one come up with original ideas? Hamlet was amazing, but every time I think of a plot point or character, it just is not nearly as good as Hamlet or is a direct copy of the play.

Is there something I could read to help me work this out? If so, what is the source?

I'm aware that Shakespeare used the book Amleth as inspiration for Hamlet; how does one find books that lend themselves well to start as a base when trying to write a play?


  • Just a thought but if your standard for acceptable writing quality is "nearly as good as Shakespeare at his best" you might be bit tough on yourself. Mar 20, 2020 at 17:02

2 Answers 2


This is what I've heard/learned:

Read a bunch of different kinds of material. You'll get your creativity stimulated and ideas will stir in your brain. You could also research things, or draw ideas - some other things to get your gears turning.

Every idea has been done before. You just have to put your own spin on an idea, or invert a trope to be original. There's only a certain number of colors in the world to choose from. Want to make orange, but somebody else has already created it? Just add a bit more of your yellow idea than they did, or maybe a bit of purple to make it yours (plot twist!). No big deal.

If an idea isn't working for you, set it aside and work on something else. You can let in "compost" and then it could grow into something crazy awesome with a bit of time and patience.

Personally, I say just write and have fun. If you aren't thinking about one specific type of idea, or a person you want to replicate (or a person you desperately don't want to replicate, for that matter), it's unlikely that you'll copy them.


When you steal from one book, it's plagiarism. When yous steal from 10 it's research.

I feel like your problem is that your information base is not wide enough. If want to do something Shakespearean, read more Shakespear. It sounds like you are too close to Hamlet, and right now it represents to you all of Shakespear's tragedies. That why everything starts to become it. If you read more you will be able to get a broader picture. Then even if you borrow elements from across many plays, you can still create something that feels like your own.

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