Right now I'm slogging through the first three pages of a draft of the piece I talked about on the "Does it matter if the inspiration is obscure" thread. I've figured out two things. I was mostly fine with it around and up to the day I made that thread, but the reason I was a bit insecure about it was the fact that the name of one of the narrating characters (this is YA, in first person narration letters and diary entries from three viewpoints, the hero, the heroine and the other heroine. The character is the other heroine.) was Azuri. I changed it because the combination of the name Azuri AND plays a similar role to the character with that name in the operetta AND the protagonists are the Red Shadow and Margot was too close to be anything but a total rip off. And I don't want to do that. That's what I was motivating me to start that thread in the first place. I'd been having on-and-off feelings about whether to change the name or not. I was feeling uncomfortable about it and by extension the rest of the story when I started the thread. I have this habit of being attached to names sometimes. Now Heroine#2's name is Zarqaa, from the fact that Azuri sounds like azure, and azure is a kind of blue. Zarqaa means.. well, guess. And it's somewhat plausible as a girl's name in a fantasy Middle Eastern culture. Anyway, I'm fine with it again, and I've decided to reference the original throughout the book to make it clear that I know it's the same as an old (and not really obscure except to the target market) operetta. (I'm going to have The Riff Song playing on the radio when the hero hears a news broadcast of one of his raids. (Yes, the steampunk fantasy world of the setting has radios. And yes, the period is approximately 1920s.) and Margot says, "Blue heaven and a moonlit desert sky on a flying carpet. My idea of romance. I love the Arabian Nights". There's also a line in the hero's journal that talks about drumming hoofbeats on desert sands. And I'm planning to have other references as well. But I'm worried about going overboard on the references and not focusing enough on writing an original take on the old plot of boy-falls-in-love-with-girl-on-opposing side-and-has to-choose-between-her-or-his-people, instead turning it into a spot-the-reference game. Does anyone feel that references can become excessive? When in your opinion does this happen? Also, does anyone have tips on handling a draft when you know what you want to write but it won't come out? The thing is, I know everything I want to write, I just can't express it.