02 November, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Sorry this post is so late in the day, everyone. I didn't have time to write it this morning, and had stuff going on for the rest of the afternoon.

But to the post topic, which is on being entirely unoriginal.

There have been times when I've thought of something, then realized that it sounded very similar (or at least on the same plane) to a blurb or book I'd read but forgot about temporarily. Sometimes I even forget which story I've taken it from, but I'll remember later it's not new.

This bothers me for several reasons. One, I don't like that sense I'm using someone else's idea. I enjoy coming up with my own stuff, ridiculous as it may be. Two, IF I was ever to be published, then I don't want the author thinking I used their idea. Even similarities I don't see, someone else might find. Three, I also think it might just be a lack of effort. There are so many possibilities when it comes to all ideas, so there's really no excuse for copying another one.

Every once in a while, though, I feel like I've come up with a good idea. An example: for the setting of my current project, it's influenced by other things, and it might be entirely in the realm of Science Fiction, but I can't think of anything that's really close to it.

Of course, some famous author will probably publish a book with a similar idea a week after I publish this post. :P

Do you worry about originality?


***I'm also guest posting HERE at Orchid's blog The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia, about The Inheritance Cycle (don't forget the last book comes out on November 8th!).***

And speaking of that current project, I'm off to write some more in my NaNoWriMo novel . . . though I will be replying to comments and visiting as many blogs as I can.

-----The Golden Eagle


MISH said...

Three or four writers may have a similar idea, but each idea will unfold and be intertwined into the story in a unique manner, according to the various writing styles/voices.

Lynda R Young said...

hahah I can so relate to this. For my current WIP I came up with this fantastic name for the world. All excited, I tell my hubby. He looks at me and says, "That's from an xbox game we saw on the weekend." It is? GAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! ;)

Ann said...

I take solace in the belief that book formulas are basically the same. There is a question that needs to be answered or the MC is in pursuance of some sort of quest. What we do with these formulas is of course where the creativity an originality comes into play.

That is my theory...and I am going to hang onto to it come hell or high water!!! :)

Cally Jackson said...

Yep, I definitely worry about being original. I have a shiny new idea that I'm totally in love with, so any time I read a blurb that is even remotely similar, I panic that they've done my idea before I can -thankfully, they've all had points of difference. But I still live in fear... :-)

Liz said...

If you think about it, we're all using the same 26 letters. We're combining them all into similar-type sentences. That combine into paragraphs...

Originality comes in the execution of the idea. You could give the same premise to two different people and have them come up with completely different stories.

I think the only people who worry about this aren't in any danger of stealing someone else's idea.

Connie Keller said...

Yeah. It happens. According to agents, it happens a lot without anyone even trying. It comes down to execution and timing. All you can do is control the first. And pray.

Southpaw said...

I understand and I know what everyone else says is true. So, then my insecurity is what if my execution is the suckiest of all the renditions.

Cortney said...

The frustrating thing for me is that I have finished a book or started a new idea, and it seems like someone else always says, "That sounds like so and so." Or whatever. I definitely try to be original though!

Old Kitty said...

All the time!! I hate it when I think of a story and then come across something I wasn't aware existed before I thought of the story. Worse is that the one I came across is the one that's published! LOL!! That really really annoys me because I then think I'm totally incapable of original thought! :-(

Good luck with your current wip!!!

Take care

C D Meetens said...

Yes, I do worry about originality. Like you, I'll write something, and it will occur to me later that what I'm writing sounds like something I read once. That's happened with a few ideas I've had.

Hope NaNo's going well :).

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think there are lots of similar plots but we can all add our own original characters and twists. Good luck with your WIP.

Anonymous said...

I worry about originality, but then I figure even if my work does accidentally match another writer's, I'll write the idea differently than s/he does.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

I'm concerned about originality, but I try not to worry about it since it's out of my control. I do hate it, though, when an editor uses the words, "love this, but it's too similar to something on our list."

E.R. King said...

I do! When I break my book down into simple terms it tends to sound like four other books I've read, and I hate that. But when I really get into the nitty-gritty of the plot, it's not the same at all. I think of it like identical twins: just because they look the same on the surface doesn't mean they ARE the same. I say play your idea out to the end and see where it goes. You might surprise yourself.

L.G.Smith said...

I used to worry about it more in the past. But now I think that even if people do have similar ideas there's really very little chance they will write a similar story. Everyone brings something different to the writing (though I wouldn't want to get caught writing a story about a boy wizard who goes off to wizard school at the moment).

But you're right, we should all strive to be as original as we can.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Heck yes! I knew the storyline for my first book wasn't totally original. I just hoped the spin I put on it made it my own. And that's all we can do.

Rusty Webb said...

Don't worry, the author you got the idea from probably ripped off of someone else - he or she probably is counting their blessings that no one has called them out as a fraud for it.

Nancy Thompson said...

Every writer worries about being original, but then again, some writers make it big writing a "retelling" of a particular story. Take, for example, REVENGE by Stephen Fry. It is the retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Same story updated for today's standards. And it's very good and did pretty well.

Having said that, last week I was watching a new series on TV when a story line came on that was remarkably similar to my current WIP, at least the premise was, not the plot. I was shocked and bummed for a while, but our ideas generally come from life experiences and life in general is not all that different from person to person. It's how we tell that story that makes it unique.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I don't really worry about originality anymore. I used to, thinking it was the end-all and be-all of storytelling, but I think it's very easy to underestimate the power of familiarity. Sure, a twisty, amazing new plot is a wonderful thing, but if a story is good, it deserves to be told, told, and told again. :)

L'Aussie said...

Hi Golden. I was reading about 'simultaneous discovery' in an issue of Writers Digest the other day. I often go 'gulp' when I'm reading a novel and something similar to mine comes up, often maybe a whole page and I know I've never read it before and the author certainly has never read mine, so writers around the world do often think of the same subjects and present in similar voices, but i'd be devastated to be accused of plagarism.


Tara Tyler said...

i know that feeling, but its more with things i do i feel like someone watched me and marketed it!

like last year for halloween i wrapped our skeleton guy in spider webbing, maybe not original, but i like to do new things w/him each year. anyway, this year they had them for sale in target! skeletons wrapped in spider web!

these coincidences happen to me all the time! so you can imagine my fear of someone putting out my book before me! ah! have to finish!

Annalise Green said...

Not sure if it's possible to write something wholly original...my perception of creativity is that it's creating new things with old things, so of course there's going to be some old things in it! And I think delivery is a lot. Five writers could have the "same concept" but write completely different stories. My current WIP is a little bit Matrix and Battle Royale but ultimately nothing like either of them.

Clarissa Draper said...

Not really. Because like what some of your other commenters have said, all the ideas have been done. What writers bring to the table are characters and twists that make the plot interesting to the reader.

Ty Johnston said...

I used to worry about originality, especially when I would come up with something I thought was original, then a few days or weeks later I'd discover a novel with a plot or character or setting at least vaguely similar to my ideas.

I eventually gave up on original "ideas," and decided to focus upon my original voice as a writer. No one can write my tales the way I do, for better and worse.

Rachel Morgan said...

I worry about this less than I used to. I think I've realised that there are a lot of ideas out there that have been done multiple times, but all slightly differently. I think having unique characters and voice and also the way you tell your story is what will make it different.
Though it would be awesome to come up with something that NO ONE else has done!

Pearson Report said...

This is a great post Miss Eagle!

I can relate to your topic.

I published a post back in June called Weapons of Mass Creation - I thought I was so clever coming up with those words, until I googled them and they were everywhere.

I used them anyway because I had not heard them or read them anywhere before posting; I actually came up with them on my own...and that was good enough for me.
Had I looked "Weapons of Mass Creation" up first, I might have gone a different route.

So, with writing, that's how I function...if it comes to me honestly through my own thinking I feel it's fair game.
If it is due to someone else's creativity I give it a wide berth.

As to my actual "writing" for publication - those things I keep private.

Worth pondering, that's for sure!

Cheers, Jenny


Sarah Pearson said...

I worry about originality in plot itself, but less so in general ideas or settings. After all, the world is only so big :-)

Stuart Nager said...

Not really. What I do strive for is writing MY way and doing the best I can. If it is "familiar" I just hope my style is enough to entice. You've read my work.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Golden Eagle .. I like to be different -

Perhaps that says it all .. I can understand what you're saying though - writing from the heart is the thing isn't it - but we need to check and thereby hangs the tale - similar phrases etc ..

Good luck - you're doing so well .. Hilary

Misha said...

I worry about originality, although I tend to be more worried about rendering my ideas in the most original way possible. :-)

Jules said...

My two cents: originality comes from the soul not the concept. Think of musical remakes, if the artist is true it becomes new music. Bad metaphor but you get the idea. Not saying copy an idea but your spin on a familiar idea may soon go totally to another galaxy.

Just be true to yourself. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Scarlett Clay said...

I totally understand this...I think people can tell when someone is just copying don't you? I have come up with art projects and then seen the same thing in a mag. weeks later..had no idea it had been done! I try to be as original as possible with my art projects...but I do admit it's been extrememly frustrating lately...it seems like a lot of unoriginal stuff gets published, the same ideas tweaked a little over and over. Still, I hold to trying my best to come up with ideas that popped into my own head all my themselves! I'm glad you're aiming for originality!

Marsha Sigman said...

Great. Now I'm worried about it!lol

I did name the town in my current wip something that another author had used. I hadn't read her books but probably heard it somewhere. I have since changed it but for writers who read a lot (and shouldn't we all be?) I think there is always a chance that could happen.

What I think is funny is when I come up with what I think is a completely random character name and realize later it's one of our obscure relatives. oh well.

The Golden Eagle said...

MISH: True. Personal writing style and voice certainly has an effect.

Lynda: LOL.

I hope you find just as good (or better!) name for your world. :)

Ann: There are basic elements to most stories that tie all of them together--only so many ways to have a good adventure, I suppose. :P

Cally: Good luck with your idea! :)

Liz: Yup. That's all the same for writers . . . unless you happen to write poetry. (Though I mean that in a positive way.)

Well, that's good to hear. :)

Connie: All the more reason to go back and work some more on that novel. :P

Southpaw: Same here. If you have an original take on an idea similar to something else, the execution is the thing left.

Cortney: I've never had someone say that to me, but that must be really irritating.

Me, too.

Old Kitty: I've had that happen, too. Published, and sometimes rather well-known in addition.

Thank you!

C D: Frustrating, isn't it?

Thanks. :) I plan to write some more this evening to try to boost my word count a little . . . I'm on track with NaNo, but I'd like to be stay ahead of the quota.

Susan: I agree. Everyone has their own experiences and thoughts that will influence what they write.

Thank you!

Medeia: Based on Bestest. Ramadan. Ever., I'm sure you'd come up with something original. :)

Angelina: Good point. It's out of a writer's control.

That must be hard to swallow.

E.R.: I like the analogy. :)

Great advice!

L.G.: LOL. No, neither would I.

Alex: Without writing a whole different novel, of course.

Rusty: I do have to wonder how much other authors were influenced by what they read or saw somewhere . . .

Nancy: I've never heard of that book (or read The Count of Monte Cristo, though I want to), but great point. Retellings are quite popular.

That's happened to me as well. I'll find something out of the blue that's very similar to something I used in my writing.

Good luck with your WIP!

The Golden Eagle said...

Bethany: Great point there. :)

L'Aussie: I would be, too.

Tara: Wow. That is some coincidence!

Good luck with your book. :)

Annalise: I like the idea of mixing old to create something new; and you're right, delivery is important.

It sounds like an awesome story!

Clarissa: Which makes it the writer's job to make them as different as possible.

Ty: For better, I think. That way the voice is unique and recognizable. :)

Rachel: Definitely!

Jenny: Thank you!

That has happened to me, too. I'll think of something, Google it, and find that other people have used it before--either for the same reason or a different one.

Sounds like good way of approaching the potential pitfalls of similar ideas.

Sarah: It's a small world, after all . . . :P

I try to focus on plot as well.

Stuart: And it's awesome. :) I always enjoy reading your work.

Hilary: I do, too.

Yup--that's where the trouble is.

Thank you!

Misha: Good point; there must be something about even a different idea that's "original" in its own right.

Jules: Actually, I think that's a great metaphor for it. Music isn't so different writing in some ways, after all. :)

Great advice!

Scarlett: I do. There's something . . . duller to it, if it's been copied.

Same here.

Thanks! :)

Marsha: You're welcome. :P

LOL. That's happened to me; I'll pick a random name, and hear it somewhere or remember that oh yeah, I know someone by that name . . .

The Desert Rocks said...

Golden with over 800 followers, you must be original. I think I'm fairly unique, but there will always be similar thinking individuals with similar ideas. :)

Shelley said...

Well, I don't do much writing outside of school and blogger, so I don't worry about this issue that much. :) Good luck with your NaNoWriMo!

Anonymous said...

I'm not worried about it, unless I find myself writing word-for-word what I remember reading. Haven't done that, so I'm good for now. I hope.

Sananora said...

You can only be original to a certain point...someone somewhere has bound to have thought of it before I have. So I just hope that the things I 'steal' from people are small and I'll mix it altogether in my personal mixer. Maybe it will come out to be something of worth...or maybe not (I've found that out about 10 times...resulting in two pages of a story...that I thought was brilliant once).

Jennifer Groepl said...

I'm worried about coming up with an original comment now! lol :)

It's spooky how similar people can be in their thinking. Similar isn't the same, though, so I don't worry about it too much. We all put our unique stamp to what we do.

the writing pad said...

Been out of blogworld for a while but was intrigued to find your thought provoking post. They do say that everything ever written is a variation on only 7 plots - from Shakespeare to Spielberg, Chaucer to Christie! The same is also said of jokes .... I think, as long as you put yor own slant on your work, the odd similarity can be regarded as purely coincidental!

Deniz Bevan said...

I think I worry about the opposite - what if my book's so odd that no agent wants to touch it?

Nadja Notariani said...

I've worried about being original a tad. I more worry that I'll adopt their a style of writing just because I've read a book that I enjoyed with that style, not because it's actually my style.
...Crazy talk, right?....
Ha! Then I forget about it and just enjoy the writing, the stories, the ...well, you know. I suppose we all worry about these things.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Just about every idea has been done before. Writers constantly find books they've never seen before that have a similar plotline to their own recently-finished book! But if you gave 50 writers an identical story idea, you'd get 50 different books.

Mark Noce said...

It's a hazy line, but to a certain degree you can even argue whether originality exists. So I say, so long as you are sincere in your intentions, forge ahead:)

The Golden Eagle said...

The Desert Rocks: Yup . . . which can be nice, too. :)

Shelley: Thank you!

Joshua: I don't think I've done that, either; I can't remember that much about an idea, no matter how much I like.

Sananora: Same here. I'll jump onboard with with an idea, work with it a bit, then find it doesn't really work. (I'm afraid that's where my NaNo novel is headed, actually; though I'm going to forge ahead regardless, since I'm not giving up on NaNo.)

Jennifer: I know what you mean--I've worried about originality with comments as well.

Good point about similar. It isn't the same as the same.

The writing pad: Welcome back to the blogosphere! :)

I've read that. I think it's true, to an extent; there can always be new twists that don't exactly follow those formulas.

I agree.

Deniz: I've wondered that about some of the things I write, too--is it too different?

Nadja: Sometimes, if I'm caught up in a story then try to write, I'll start to take on certain elements of the writing I was just reading. :P (And do it very badly, which makes it worse . . .)

Jennifer: I was about to say that it would be interesting to find out what a group of authors did with an identical story idea, but I just realized I participated in a blogfest with that as its focus. The hosts set up a shared world and had people write within in based on sets of prompts. :)

Mark: Sounds good to me!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Just before we were about to sub, my agent told me about a PW announcement of a book that sold that almost the exact same plot as mine. Which is hard because I write about sled dogs! Just goes to show, there aren't any original ideas, just the way you write it is original. And that will never change.

J.L. Campbell said...

I too don't want to do anything that resembles something that's been written before. Hard to do something never before heard of, but we each have the power to put our unique spin on things. So many things to consider as we write.

The Golden Eagle said...

Terry: Which is definitely a good thing. :)

J.L.: Indeed!