Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Jinx


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:


Jinx! What story ideas have you trunked because they were too similar to published/well-known stories?


Ack...this happened to me recently, actually. 


Just a month or two ago I was getting a massage, and in the middle of the massage a story idea struck me. And it had such potential! I struggled to remember it, then I drove home from the massage and immediately sent a frantic email to my writing bestie Heather, so she could help me develop it out. After emails and emails and emails, and abandoning a plot thread that I realized sounded like a good idea because it was a lot like a book that is coming out soon, I had a basic plot sketched out. I even had a few thousand words written. I was good to go!


Then a few things happened. 


1. I got struck with an even better idea that I was ridiculously in love with. 


2. I was at B&N browsing the books like I do, and I saw a book that didn't look familiar to me. I picked it up and read the back and
O
M
G
it was so similar to my dang idea. 


It wasn't identical, but it was pretty darn similar. Like, scratch your head and say hmm similar. I snapped a picture of the back of the book to email Heather, and then I whined the entire way home. NO FAIR. 


Of course, Heather, as always, was the voice of reason. She talked me off the ledge for the millionth time and made me realize that even if our plots were almost identical, it really wouldn't be that big of a deal, and that I could totally make this concept my own. Plus, let's be real...neither one of us had ever even heard of this book. 


But, that shiny new idea that I had fallen in love with was dancing around my brain. And now this one was tainted. So after running the new idea, the tainted idea, and my NaNo project past my writing group, asking them which one I should go for, they all agreed on shiny new idea. Sorry, tainted idea. You were ruined for me. 


I'm sure you want to know what it is, but...I'm not going to tell you. You never know, I may still go after it. And I can't let it get even more tainted than it already is, you know? Heh.


Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever trunked an idea because it was too similar to something else?

36 comments:

  1. Gah! I want to know what this novel is now! But isn't that the worst feeling? You get so excited about something, only to find out it's kinda been done before? Talk about a buzzkill.

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    1. Honestly, you probably haven't even heard of it. I never heard of it before I randomly saw it at B&N.

      Buzzkill, for sure.

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  2. Happened to me after I wrote it. Sucks.

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  3. Yup! I've had an idea or two that I figured was too close to something else out there. But it's okay because I have lots more ideas to work on! :)

    www.KarenAmandaHooper.com

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    1. Yeah, it's good that there are lots of other ideas out there! :-D

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  4. I'd always wanted to write a YA retelling of my favorite novel, Jane Eyre. Too bad April Lindner beat me to it. But in all fairness, she rocked it. I'd never have reimagined Edward as an aging rock star.

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    1. Maybe in the future there will be room for another one!

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  5. My time travel YA novel, The Clearing, was rejected by one editor because they had just bought a time travel YA novel called The Clearing.

    SUUUUUUUUCCCKKKKKKK.

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  6. This has never happened to me...not to say that there isn't something that is already out there that is like my idea that I just haven't heard of.

    That worries me a bit. But I don't know what I don't know :)

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  7. That's never happened to me, but I don't think I would trunk it. All stories are archetypal anyway.

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    1. Yeah, it's not trunked forever. Just for now. I can still make it my own if I want to go back to it.

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  8. This happened to me too! I had an amazing idea I fell in love with, dove in and knocked out the first 100+ pages, all of a sudden to find there was a book coming out with a similar storyline and much positive buzz surrounding it. Instead of shelving it, I kept in mind that no idea is original. A good concept is a good concept, it's what the author does with that concept that can make it unique. So the first step is to see what THAT author did and make sure mine does not tread exactly along that same path. (Confession: I still haven't read it because I'm actually working on something different now but that's a good thing because it ultimately puts more distance between that book and mine.)

    Also, if you keep in mind how long the publishing process takes, even if I finished my book tomorrow and sold it the next day, it will be a good year or two before that book ever hits the shelves. If that other book does well, it can only help me because I can pitch mine as a cross between that successful book and something else. And the truth is, that book was similar to another book that made it to the NYT bestseller list and was ultimately turned into a movie. So again, what is original? That part is defined by the writer, and hopefully your audience agrees.

    So don't shelve - just think bigger. Use your original idea as a jumping off point. And please remind me of this when I go back to that book and am tearing my hair out, okay? lol

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    1. Yeah, I'm hanging on to the idea, for sure. You never know what will still work out!

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  9. I don't think I'd give up on it :-) Like you say, that other book is not necessarily even one that people have heard of before. Plus, your story would have your own spin on it. I say go for it :-)

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    1. Luckily I have the BETTER idea to work with right now, but I'm not giving up on this one yet. :-)

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  10. Ugh, this has totally happened to me. After I'd written the book, and started to query it. Certainly puts a damper on things! But, everyone puts their own spin on things--or so they say!!

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    1. Oh man...AFTER you started to query? That sucks. :-(

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  11. I've been lucky, and this hasn't happened to me (yet). But I do have a policy of not reading really close comp titles during the first 1-3 drafts. I need to make sure my story is *my* take on the concept first.

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    1. That's a really good idea. It's better to just NOT KNOW what else is out there.

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  12. I've done this several times, but thankfully, I was still in the idea stage like you were. It's tough to let go of the ideas, but it's so much more fun to work on ideas that you can at least pretend are unique and fresh :)

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  13. Thankfully, this hasn't happened to me, but I think I can still understand your feeling of OMG, NO FAIR!! :)

    I think so many stories are similar that it's the execution that matters. I mean, how many can you name that follow this idea: Girl with family troubles finds comfort in an outcast boy who has a hidden past of his own. Yet all seem so different.

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    1. So true. I can think of two popular books that have almost identical plots, but there has been room for both of them. It's all about execution!

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  14. I love how quickly you go from one idea to another! Sometimes they just hit you so fast it's hard to grab hold of them before they're gone! And at the end when you've got your pile of ideas, sometimes the not-so-good ones do get cast aside, but that's okay.

    Whichever is calling to you at the moment is what you should work on. If older ones come back to you later, maybe they're worth another shot. But writers are fountains, always spewing out more ideas. We don't have to worry.

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    1. I usually don't have this flood of ideas. I've been lucky lately!

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  15. I have not come across any books that are the same as my idea, plot-wise. However, I did read a book with one scene that is similar to a scene I've written. It's not identical, but I am worried a little bit. However, I figure that since I'm still on my first draft, it will probably end up changing a lot anyway when I do revisions, so I'll worry about it later.

    I recently read a book that I thought was very similar to another book I had read. Plot-wise they weren't really similar at all, but the main characters had the same name and one aspect of the story was the same.

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    1. I wouldn't worry about one scene. You're right...it's going to change a lot.

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  16. I suppose once you find your idea has already been done and published, it takes the wind out of your sails a bit. Perhaps not cause to trash the idea completely, but enough reason maybe to rest it for a while--especially if you have something better to work on.

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    1. You said exactly what is on my mind, Colin.

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  17. Good thing you had that SNI to fall back on. This actually has not happened to me...yet. I anticipate it will. Or maybe not. My brain seems to come up with some really weird stuff these days.

    On a side note - YAY! I'm so happy to be bloghopping again!

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  18. You went with your heart into that SNI and that is what matters! :D Tainted idea might make your heart beat faster again soon, you never know and it will be like finding a long lost love that you thought was gone forever! (dramatic, no? lol :D)

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  19. The more you read, the more you run into stories that look alike on the surface--or at least alike enough to make you momentarily panic! But I've taken photography classes where we were given the exact same assignment, and ended up with very different interpretations, and I know that analogy translates to writing.

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