1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It's all been done before . . .

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Catrin Lewis, Jun 5, 2017.

    The other day I came across a book on Amazon where the initial setup was so much like what I have in mind for the second novel of my romantic-suspense series, it's uncanny. I mean, the relations between the characters, their nationalities, even their professions--- the same, or so little different as to not matter. Scary.

    I'm trying not to hyperventilate. Calm down, I'm telling myself. My plot will go in a totally different direction. Yes. It will. It really will. Write the book. Don't worry that the fans of this other author (who might potentially like my stuff, too) might think I ripped the characters off from her.

    Calm yourself. Everything's been done before. There are no wholly original plots. Nobody expects a wholly original plot. Just write the----

    AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!
     
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  2. Arktaurous34

    Arktaurous34 Member Supporter

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    Hi @Catrin Lewis. I can see why finding similar content in another persons work is discouraging. I want to encourage you the only way I know how; by sharing a story :)

    I had an experience on a writing website (that has since dissolved) long ago. It was a cool place where writers could present their work and receive feedback (not as cool as this place). There was a guy going around ripping into writers work mercilessly. Though much of what he had to say was true he was pretty mean. Finally after seeing a handful of harsh comments I decided I was going to go rip into his work; give him a taste of his own medicine. I was all pissed off and started reading one of his short stories and the damndest thing happened! His character was generic and his plot was uninteresting at best but that son of a bish hooked me and made me forget why I came. I sat scratching my head as I read the last line. How the heck did this bully puke derail me!? That's when I learned one of my most valuable lessons as a writer. The content wasn't as important as the storytelling itself. It suddenly didn't matter as much if I was original or if I had a freaking amazing idea for a story. It was the way it was put together that made him a good writer. The sooner I learned how to do whatever he did the better I would be for it. Don't get me wrong, I still called him a douche for being mean but his work spoke for itself and I couldn't rip it up like I so desperately wanted to. If you're a good story teller you can take just about anything and turn it into gold. I am obviously not there but at least I know what I want to achieve now. Hope this is encouraging. Best wishes!
     
  3. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's unfortunate, but most likely your work will be different enough, so no one will notice. :) I wouldn't worry about it too much.

    A couple of years ago, a sci-fi indie game called Solus was released. @T.Trian and I had been writing our sci-fi novel Solus for years at that point already, so imagine our horror when the game came out! But apart from the name, it's different enough, so I guess that's just bad luck and we'll have to deal with it, maybe come up with another name when the manuscript is finally finished.
     
  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Into the Cold Supporter Contributor

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    I've never come across a published story that was even remotely like either my first story OR the one I'm writing now, but let me tell you a story of my own:

    I read a book. It was riddled with SPAGs, headhopping... every technical error in writing that could be made, this specific author wallowed in it. But I read this book to the end. I re-read it. Some sentences and scenes I've not forgotten to this day. This author's style, errors and all, matched what he had to tell. Imagine someone else, trying to write this specific story. The style would be completely different. This other author would express himself a different way. The scenes I cherish would never have been written like they did, and they would never stick in my head the way the original author made them stick.

    Don't panic; just write your own way :)
     
  5. Safety Turtle

    Safety Turtle Senior Member

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    Everything has been done, yes, the trick is to take the things that's been done before and combine them in different ways.
     
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    While it is true there are no more original ideas, you can still get into serious trouble (in a narrative sense) if your characters appear to be copies. Themes, plots, gags, and driving engines are one thing, but carbon copy characters are something else. I had this problem recently with a WIP and American Gods. There were enough similarities that it became a thing and I had to plan accordingly. I'd read the book in question if you plan on going forward. If I had finished what I was doing and then read American Gods I might have been in a serious world of shit.
     
  7. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd really rather not spend the money. The author set up one situation in the blurb and another in the first chapter, alias the Prologue-disguising-itself-as-not-a-prologue and I don't care to make the emotional investment in the latter. I mean, don't present your book as a love triangle romance novel then tell me in the first chapter/prologue that the guy the heroine ultimately chooses ends up dead a couple of years later.

    Besides, I've already got these characters in book one of the series, which I'm about to publish, and blasted if I'm rewriting all that on the off chance that the same readers might see them both.
     
  8. dragonflare137

    dragonflare137 Member

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    While I haven't been in this type of situation (yet), I say go straight on for it. You made the acknowledgement that it is possibly the same, and you thought about the repercussions. I'd say that's as good as you can do. I'm glad that you haven't gotten too down about it, and you are continuing with your original vision. Nothing sucks more when you feel like you are being forced to change your vision to something that won't satisfy you. Power to you in continuing your vision. You know that you didn't copy their work. You know that what you have is what you created, and wanted for your story. I wish you luck in your endeavors, and I hope things work out in the end :)
     
  9. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Say, you don't happen to remember this book's title do you?
     
  10. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I read books that involve the subjects, era and theme I use in my story but but it would be very difficult to have the same style and structure.

    As a matter of fact, I've noticed lots of authors subconsciously put things into their stories from other books. It's not that you're copying or they're copying but it's like an inspiration; some kind of light turning on in your head.

    I'm a reader but I'm more of a music listener so if my writing is similar to anything I guess it'll have to be inspired by certain records.
     
  11. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Catrin - do not sweat this. As an avid fan of gothic romance, bodice rippers, horror - I can tell I ( and given the numbers they've sold I'm not alone so we) don't mind when things sound similar to other books in the genre. I even take some comfort in that familiarity. And even when the writer thinks it will be the 'same' it won't, there's always going to be a new perspective to give it freshness.
    Just keep writing, relax and enjoy your story.
     
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  12. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    You know what they say, there is only one plot, repeated over and over: things happen, then it ends.
     
  13. Lady BA

    Lady BA New Member

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    @Catrin Lewis, I've never published a book before, but I'm on my way and I've done a lot of reading. One thing I do believe is that an author is wholly original in their own right because no matter what we do we can never be exactly like another person. You know, the whole everyone is a snowflake thing. While things may be coincidentally similar at the beginning, I bet your mind is going to shape that story into something wildly original and amazing.

    Keep your head up and tell YOUR story. :)
     

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