Have you ever had the best idea for a novel, and then the next day you wake up and everyone everywhere all over the world is writing it and producing it? You turn on the TV and there it is. You watch a movie trailer or pick up the hottest new bestseller and your stomach sinks when you read the back blurb!
“They stole my idea!”
Well, that pretty much happens to me EVERY TIME! Now it’s the joke around here. My family (a group of creative geniuses in my biased opinion) is convinced that there is someone following us around with a candid camera and taking notes and stealing our ideas. Pretty sure.
Juxtapose that to the happy moment you get when you open a writer’s market book or stalk your favorite agent on his or her site and you read, “If I get another Vampire book I’ll scream! I want original. I want something different. I want something no one has done before. I want the new thing!”
Well, how am I supposed to do that when my ideas keep getting stolen—retro?
My advice when this happens to you? Write it anyway. Yep.
Do you think Michelangelo got angry at Da Vinci for taking the religious theme in The Last Supper and refused to do the Sistine Chapel?
Or did Goldie Hawn or Gwyneth Paltrow listen when someone said, “Oh no, honey, there was already a blonde in Hollywood about thirty years ago. Don’t bother.”
Did Picasso even think twice about painting some flowers because Van Gogh already did some?
Well okay, if they did…they didn’t let it stop them. Don’t let it stop you!
Let’s talk about readers for a second. What do you read? I am a genre reader. I love to read the same types of books over and over again. And I’m about to admit to you my deepest, darkest secret. I LOVE Bonnet movies and books; i.e: Jane Austen type books written by contemporary authors. I can’t get enough of them. I can tell you right now that I will NEVER get tired of that governess traveling to that old family seat (in her faded black bombazine gown) where she turns everything around at that house, finds love, happiness, and that perfect book (when she has to go to the library to get one in her nightgown that shows off her trim ankles). I am never mad when she finds love in the end. Never. I promise. I can read this same book over and over again. Scene: debutante enters her first season and is scorned somehow. Well, she’ll show them! There is always something different to these formulaic stories. The exact words for instance…
Even if you put aside us readers who are addicted to our formulaic books, and claim that YOU only read original books, I invite you to hear the argument that I have with my coworker on a yearly basis, and that is that there is no original idea! Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl again
Boy goes on quest. He has some setbacks. He finishes quest. In fact, I’d love to hear someone give me a storyline that has never been done before. Change the gender. Change the names. Change the setting. But even if you’re one of those artists who thinks you can throw a can of soup on the ground and draw a picture on the kitchen floor with it so you can be completely original, I promise, I really really promise it’s been done before.
My nephew did it…and you stole his idea!
My point? Even if plots aren’t original, you are. Every time I enter a theater or begin reading a book with a story theme similar to mine, I go in worried and leave completely relaxed. It wasn’t even close to what I came up with. Sometimes I’ll avoid watching or reading that particular entertainment while I’m writing something similar just so I won’t be influenced. Other times I give in, and I’m glad I did because I feel inspired to keep writing.
The honest truth? If you like to write about vampires (during the Twilight age) or witches (during the Harry Potter age) or first love or epic adventures or whatever’s hot right now (like faerytale remakes which is what I’m writing)
Or ALL OF THE ABOVE…
No one can write your story the way you’ll write it. So write it! And people LIKE ME will read it! Especially if you make it good. Yes, quite honestly! You’ll have the advantage because you’re writing about something you LOVE to write about (and read about). Just that alone will make your novel shine.