1. SerraSwift
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    SerraSwift Member

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    Originality vs. Voice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SerraSwift, Aug 8, 2010.

    So, I have a question for you fine folks.

    Say you are working on a project. One day you come across a published book...it's in the same genre as yours, and there are some similarities, but the style, voice, messages and themes of the book are very different.

    Do you scrap the project in the interest of complete originality? Or do you say to yourself, "Screw it, nothing's completely original anyway," and continue to work with a devotion to drawing out your unique voice and point of view?

    And: do you think it would harm your chances at being published? ("Well, there's already a book out about geisha, so, no thanks.")

    I appreciate your input!
    Serra
     
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course I continue. If you stopped working on every project that had some similarities then you would never write again. You can pull several books, even if different genres, and could probably find similarities in them aswell.

    Write what you want to write.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There's nothing out there that is completely original, so I'd keep going.

    No, most publishers care about how well a book will sell and how well it is written.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You say your voice and themes are very different from the other book's? You keep writing, of course, and you kick that other book's ass.

    ;)
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You say your voice and themes are very different from the other book's? You keep writing, of course, and you kick that other book's ass.

    ;)
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I think it'll depend on the popularity of the other book and similarities of your book with it. For example if you were to create similar chars to hugely popular Harry Potter and his friends, then it'll be hard to sell it (not impossible) despite your unique voice and style. But I feel that the book which is similar to yours is not that popular, so I don't see any problem.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Publishers/Literary agents in the UK all seem to ask for you to know your market and what are your potential competitors. They won't go into competition with their own book.
     
  8. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    Of course you keep going!

    Many would advocate reading similar types of your ms that are already published, so that you see how it is done, and what works and what doesn't. However, I am from the school of thought that these books could influence you too much. I have said before that my novel will always be compared (or at least dumped in the same basket) with Hitchhiker's, but I point blank refuse to read it, because I want to know that my ideas are just that, my ideas.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    ;) yours is better lol - Hitchhikers was originally a radio play and thats how it works best as either radio or audiobook. Yours works much better in print than Hitchhikers its easier to read and flows better.

    I am trying not to let mine being so far compared to Eragon and Lord of the Rings go to my head:)

    Sometimes your book being like another one will be what helps it sell, Artemis Fowl and the Dark Materials were both marketed as the new Harry Potter, because readers were desperate for the next installment.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Originality is a chimera. Those who singlemindedly quest after it will accomplish nought. Publishers know this. What they look for is a good story, well written.

    Granted, publishers look askance at "bandwagon" novels tryingto capitalize on a current trend. That doesn't mean they will shuffle them all directly to the rejected pile. but their expectations for any new manuscript from an unknown writer will be low. The number of good submissions in that category will probably not be much higher than usual in that category, but there will be many, many more submisions that are an insult to the trees killed to print the manuscripts. Pity the poor submissions editor with a stack of vampire romances weighing down her desk!

    However, it takes quite a while to write a book, particularly a first book. By the time your novel finds its way to a submissions editor's attention, the fad may well have passed its peak. That is undoubtedly a good thing!

    Write your book. Your voice, your perspective, your characters, will make or break the novel. Not big, splashy tricks, like writidng a dragon story from the perspective of sentient stonework in the nearby castle, but subtle things like an unexpected optimism where another story would find only depression.
     
  11. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    And hanging on to a trend (like vampires) that popular at the moment can actually increase the chance of getting published.
     
  12. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Hey SerraSwift,

    I’ve worried over this same discussion as well. I’ve believed that since it was done before, it couldn’t be done again.

    But despite the chaotic pool of publishers, you still have a chance. Publishers and readers out there look for books that are similar to what they have read. That is probably how genres came to be. And besides, I’m sure publishers want books that are similar to their fat, New York Times bestsellers.

    So screw it! Write your idea. It is your own point of view. It is your side of creativity. A
    lot of people in the world could come to love your book.

    Tayleea91
     
  13. Ron Aberdeen
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    Ron Aberdeen Banned

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    Any chef or good cook will tell you getting a dish right is a question of balancing the ingredients, having a good palate and how the dish is presented.

    Now that means before cooking you need to know what ingredients to use and how to use them.

    A good palate comes from experience, especially trying dishes prepared by other chefs and good cooks, that together with being able to recognise the ingredients used and what effect that had on the finished results.

    Finally, when the dish is finished cooking, it has to appeal, in appearance and aroma; in other words what it looks like on the plate.

    Writing is bit like that.

    Twenty cooks can make a cake but not all the cakes will taste the same, nor will all the cakes look the same.

    Just as twenty writers can write about any subject and none of the books will read the same.

    Even dishes that have been presented over and over again can be made to have a touch of originality about them.

    Again the same applies to writing, no matter how many war stories, romantic comedies, vampire sagas or thrillers are penned by a myriad of scribblers the chances of two having exactly the same ingredients presented in the same way are as rare as finding a pair of mating Dodos.

    What ever you idea for a story is remember, it will be your vision your presentation and your voice that will give it, its originality.

    Finding excuses not to do something is an art in itself.
     
  14. Tessie
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    Tessie Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ron Aberdeen, that is so true! Some people, unfortunately, are gifted with that specific flaw.

    Tessie91
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that makes no sense, unless your book is already written and ready to submit...

    if you're just starting to write, it's more likely the current trend will have fizzled out before you finish writing/revising/editing/polishing and start querying for an agent or publisher... plus, even if you were to miraculously get an agent on the first query and she/he sold the book instantly to a publisher, it would be 18 months to 2 years after you sign the contract, before your book would be in print and released to the bookshops...

    so don't ever even consider trends 'of the moment' when deciding what you want to write... just write whatever it is well enough that it doesn't have to fit any fleeting fad...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  16. SerraSwift
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    SerraSwift Member

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    I am in incredible debt to all of you!

    I went to bed last night filled with a gnawing doubt, scared to death I'd have to axe my project.

    However, after reading all of your comments and advice, I am feeling so much better. I was focusing (rather obsessively) on the minute similarities between my book and this other author's. But there are also such vast differences between us, ones that make our books seem like salt and pepper. (And it's true, hers isn't well known, so it's not like I'm competing with Harry Potter or Twilight.)

    Thanks to all of you, I am going to continue my revisions today, with a happiness I haven't felt since coming across that other author's book.

    I really appreciate all of your comments and insight!

    -Serra
     

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