Monday, October 18, 2010

Immitating Others

I had a mild panic attack yesterday. I was talking to my thirteen-year-old about my MG I've started. I was explaining my main character and the world he discovers, and I was very excited (and a little proud) of how different it was than anything else I'd ever seen.

Up until she said, "Oh, that's just like *insert name of popular children's book*."

No, not Harry Potter. I'd never in a zillion years accidentally immitate Potterverse. I'm a well-versed Potterdork. But this series she compared mine to is also pretty popular. I knew it because I'd bought her each book as it came out. I've never read it. I've never even read the back to find out what it was about. I just knew she liked it. So, with her words I went from excited to incredibly depressed in 2.4 seconds.

She brought me the books for me to look over. I googled the series. Researched the characters, plot arc and motivations, and am relieved to say mine is still very different from that one. There *are* similarities, though. Unintentional ones. I know this is to do with the fact that *there are no new ideas.* Even that one is compared to another previous author's work.

So how, in this world of millions of books, can we possibly know *our* ideas are fresh and new? They probably aren't. Someone else has already written your book with different characters and motivation. And not necessarily in book form. I told my friend about one element and they said, "Oh, that's like a Dr. Who episode." Crap. I've read jacket copy of some books and said to myself, "That's a Buffy episode."

It sucks, but we have to soldier on and hope that our new take or twist is different enough to not be considered immitation hacks. I don't watch Dr. Who. I haven't read many of my daughter's books. There's the possibility (or inevitability) that if this book finds representation and is published, someone will think I've copied someone else. But none of us do that on purpose, do we? We don't *want* to be like others. We want to entertain with our newness, not disappoint with our similarity.

This might be a bad idea, but I hope an agent would help in this regard. If they are interested in the book, but think parts are too similar to something I've never heard of, they'd let me know so I can change it. Unless they discard mine from the get-go for being too similar. It's a frightening possibility.

Has this happened to any of you? Have you thought you had a new take or idea, only to discover it's been done?

20 comments:

Emily White said...

Oh, this happens to me all the time. In fact, right now I'm guarding a particular idea of mine behind three foot thick steel doors, but I'm sure I'll find something out there that's already used it. It happens. But at least I know I'll write it differently from anyone else.

By the way, I'm sending you a friendly reminder about your goober post this Thursday! :D

Roland D. Yeomans said...

After Shakespeare, there are truly no original ideas out there. Sigh.

All we can do is make our characters alive and intriguing, to make the dangers and allures primal, and to lure the reader to sit on the edge of his and her seat, hopefully laughing every now and then and wishing the story would never end.

I wish you luck and success with your MG novel. Wish me luck today as I go to the surgeon to see how much "fun" the next six weeks are going to be! Roland

Hannah Kincade said...

it's going to happen no matter what we write so I just try to put my own twist on things. Keeping characters fresh and plots atwistin. It's really all we can do.

KLM said...

I just read a book last week that has an element somewhat similar to an incredibly original never-seen-it-before idea in my manuscript. Ah, well. I actually don't think that what readers care about is similarities among book elements. This sort of thing is annoying only when you perceive that the author has been totally lazy and fallen back on some over-used cliche because maybe they couldn't figure out any other way to fix a plot hole. My personal pet peeve? The prophecy has foretold these happenings!! Gah. Drives me nuts.

All in all, I'd say carry on as you'd planned and don't fret about it.

Good luck!

Kristen

KLM said...

I just read a book last week that has an element somewhat similar to an incredibly original never-seen-it-before idea in my manuscript. Ah, well. I actually don't think that what readers care about is similarities among book elements. This sort of thing is annoying only when you perceive that the author has been totally lazy and fallen back on some over-used cliche because maybe they couldn't figure out any other way to fix a plot hole. My personal pet peeve? The prophecy has foretold these happenings!! Gah. Drives me nuts.

All in all, I'd say carry on as you'd planned and don't fret about it.

Good luck!

Kristen

aspiring_x said...

i know exactly what you mean. i worry about it too, but you know, we just do the best we can do. :)

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

once, off a query draft, someone said my WIP sounded like Babe.
That upset me for about 5 minutes. But then i remembered that it's not really like Babe at all, except for it has themes revolving around finding and building a family.

Terry Towery said...

Funny you should mention this. A year or two ago, as I was writing The Devil You Don't Know, I picked up the Bible, read some of it and went, "Ah crap." ;)

Mia said...

Yea. I get that a lot. Somebody once said my WiP reminded them of the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

I mean it's a great book, yah, but I naively thought my MS might be original. Eventually I figured it was actually mainly because they both have zombies in them and that's what the person meant.

;)

Kellye Parish said...

I perpetually worry that my story is going to be seen by some as a pale imitation of 1984, rather than an homage, even though I know deep down that any similarities between that book and mine are completely superficial. I just don't want to finally get finished only to hear a yawn and get the response: "Oh, well, it's been done already. Did you really think you could stand up to Orwell?"

I guess that's one of the reasons I decided to publish the novel serially on my blog instead - at least that way maybe I'll get some kind of feedback and determine whether or not it's even worth finishing...

Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't had this happen yet, but I do worry about it! As you say, there are so many books out there, we've got to have similarities with something!

The Words Crafter said...

I have had an idea in my head for several years, and I've seen it appear in book form by someone else. I think sometimes that ideas are gifts and if we (meaning me) don't use them, they flitter off elsewhere.

Maybe in this case, the idea was so good that it needed another go around, with a different author...good luck!

Kelly Dexter said...

There was one time in particular that went something like: idea, joy, bookstore, back cover blurb, despair. We just have to write to the best of our abilities and -like Hannah said- put our own twist on things.

Lydia Kang said...

Ohhhh yes. It's disheartening. I once had a great idea for a paranormal, and found it had been written from a boy's perspective 15 years ago and was being optioned for a movie. I was pissed! 15 years too late!

Elana Johnson said...

Only every time I read a book. Sometimes the jargon is even the same. We all soldier on, hopefully putting a fresh spin on it in either content or writing style. Remember that no one can write a book the way you can.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Oh yeah, this has happened to me. But then I realized no two authors write a like. We may have similar characters and there are only so many plot lines, but there is only one YOU! Only you can write your story. That's not to say to go ahead and use similar characters, but it does say work on. Make the characters you own and add interesting plot twists that will make your story memorable. =]

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my bad english. Thank you so much for your good post. Your post helped me in my college assignment, If you can provide me more details please email me.

Guo Guo said...

guowenhao20150323
discount oakley sunglasses
cheap snapbacks
burberry handbags
coach factory outlet
kate spade outlet
polo ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton outlet
longchamp outlet
lululemon outlet online
chanel bags
oakley outlet
toms shoes
jordan shoes
thomas sabo bracelet
tod's sale
salvatore ferragamo
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet store
tod's shoes
nhl jerseys
mont blanc pens
kobe 9 shoes
beats by dre
oakley sunglasses wholesale
babyliss hair dryer
michael kors outlet store
air max 95
ralph lauren polo shirts
michael kors outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
instyler ionic styler
asics gel kayano
karen millen sale
louis vuitton outlet uk
discount oakley sunglasses
cheap nhl jerseys
kate spade handbags
ghd hair straighteners
karen millen dresses
louis vuitton outlet online

mmjiaxin said...

oklahoma city thunder jerseys, http://www.thunderjerseystore.com/
ray-ban sunglasses, http://www.raybansunglass.com.au/
nhl jerseys, http://www.nhljerseys.us.com/
ferragamo shoes, http://www.ferragamo.eu.com/
cheap football shirts, http://www.cheapfootballshirt.org.uk/
lacoste shirts, http://www.polo-lacoste-shirts.fr/
longchamp handbags outlet, http://www.longchamphandbag.us.com/
ralph lauren outlet, http://www.poloralphlauren.us.org/
bottega veneta outlet, http://www.bottegaveneta-outlet.net/
iphone cases, http://www.iphonecase.name/
coach outlet, http://www.coach-outlet-store.us.com/
hollister pas cher, http://www.abercrombie-fitch-hollister.fr/
pandora, http://www.pandora.eu.com/
beats by dre, http://www.beatsbydrdre-headphones.us.com/
tods outlet, http://www.todsoutlet.us.com/
ray ban,rayban,occhiali ray ban,ray-ban,ray ban occhiali,ray ban sunglasses
packers jerseys, http://www.greenbaypackersjersey.us/
cleveland cavaliers, http://www.cavaliersjerseys.net/
nike air max 2015, http://www.airmax2015.in.net/
oakley sunglasses wholesale, http://www.wholesaleoakleysunglasses.us.com/

dada24 Xu said...

oakley sunglasses cheap
true religion jeans outlet
discount oakley sunglasses
ed hardy outlet
jordans
coach factory outlet store
louboutin shoes
coach outlet online
discount oakley sunglasses
air max 90
zhi20170122