1. ThePfeifleFiles
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    ThePfeifleFiles Member

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    Too similar to an already published novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ThePfeifleFiles, Jul 3, 2011.

    How do I find out if my story is too similar to other novels that are already published? I've scrapped ideas in the past because they were nearly identical, and I find it aggravating after I put a lot of thought into something to find that it has already been "done."

    Does anyone know of an online database for novels (specifically Science fiction) where you could find books that have to do with space/viruses? (Similar to The Andromeda Strain...)
     
  2. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if you already know the novel it's similar to, you're okay, right? :p

    Mostly, if you can't be bothered to read everything on offer at the bookshop, a good method is to shelf browse old and new bookstores. My method is to judge by covers and titles - fortunately writing the kooky fantasy I do, against current trends as far as I can tell, means that something close to mine would stand out anyway (mostly by not having a grungy, moody cover :p). If a book seems worryingly close to my thing, I'll pull it off the shelf, and read the blurb, which usually tells me enough. If it still disquiets me I'll buy the book (only happened once or twice), and read it for myself to see how close it comes and what I can do to avoid it. Usually reading a single book can give you an idea to radically change your story. You don't have to spend too much money unless you really are writing a very generic idea, in which case it's more like your own fault for not coming up with enough twists to make the idea your own after the first couple of books. :p

    I always reckon though, all stories have been told - with SF and Fantasy it's all about the world and characters and sense of wonder you can put in the character. Some of the best little things I like about some pretty generic, awful popular fantasy are just the settings they choose to write. Sure the actual story is pretty rubbish, but I don't think about that and just enjoy the fact that, for however bad the story, they take you on a good ride. Even I have to admit there were some passages of pretty alright description in Twilight when she looked away from all the vampires and sparkliness and self-pitying.
     
  3. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    Did no one ever tell you you should NEVER do that?! :p

    Anyway on topic, as long as your novel's execution and style is unique and the plot is not an exact carbon copy, I think it should be fine. You can't exactly rip off a book you have not read, so there are bound to be differences.

    How long until Cogito posts his thing about everything already having been done? :p
     
  4. Rechan
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    Rechan Member

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    Indeed.

    I think it would actually be very difficult for two people to create an exactly identical story. They likely will share 85-95% overlap, but that extra percent is what the author brings to the table.

    Even if there are only 9 stories (or 36, or whatever), there is an almost unlimited number of character trait and setting combinations. You really can't reinvent the Romeo and Juliet story, but you can change the characters and setting so that it feels familiar but different enough.

    Besides. The important part is not what happens, but how. Look at every Bond movie/book. They are pretty formulaic, and we all know how they end. The fun part is seeing how Bond does what he does. Same with MacGuyver, or Oceans 1X, or any number of things where you tune in to find out what new trick you'll see.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    He doesn't have to, anymore. We do it for him. :D
     
  6. PastPresentNFuture
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    PastPresentNFuture Senior Member

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    Well, i don't think you should worry about it, every story takes off from something else. Just look at all those medieval fantasies, they all take off of Lord of The Rings. So it should be fine, as long as you add your own unique elements :).
     
  7. ThePfeifleFiles
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    ThePfeifleFiles Member

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    Wow, you guys make some really good points. Thanks! :D
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Repeatedly. :D But these days books are so marketed it's easy to get an impression at least of, well, not the story but who it's marketed to. I know my fantasy could not be marketed in the same way as any of the grungy, dark-covered things, so I can blank out most of the shelf and check the fewer brighter coloured books out. :p Understanding the market is as important as anything else, and therefore you can write a story with a remarkably similar plot to one thing, but in a way that will have them put it in a cover very different to the others on the shelf.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Judging by the cover is a good thing. I don't care what the others say. Judge. Judge. Judge.

    Anyway, write your story. Be your story. Breathe your story. Whatever gets your rocks off, really, as long as you write it and you're confident. Nobody ever got anything done while they were insecure about it existing already.
     

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