You pick up a book at the library, because you read an excerpt about it somewhere. You’re very excited about reading it, because you can’t wait to see how the author has handled the plot, how she has sketched the characters, and how well she has balanced action and dialogue with description. And, that book is very close in genre and age-group to the one on which you’re currently working.
You come home and start reading it. Your heart begins to race, because whaddaya know? The book begins very similar to how yours does. Now, isn’t that amazing? You continue to breeze through the book and as you go on, your heart rate slows down until your heart begins to slowly plummet. Why? Because the book is telling your story!
That’s not fair! It was your brainchild. How dare someone else not only have the same idea, but execute it well ahead of you and publish it, too?
Has this (or something similar) happened to you? I’m sure as writers, every one of us has confronted something along these lines at one time or another.
What do you do when faced with such a debilitating experience?
You take a deep breath, shake your head, and finish reading that book. At the end you go: “A very good book, but I’m sure mine will be better.”
Writers are eternal optimists, if not anything else, especially when it comes to their stories and plotlines. Aren’t they?
They have to be, or they couldn’t proceed to put down their inner-most thoughts on paper day in and day out for everyone’s perusal, could they?
If you have faced such a situation, take heart! There are over six billion humans inhabiting this planet of ours. Isn’t it highly likely that any time you’re having a thought, at least one other person on this Earth is having the exact same thought (even if they may be thinking it in a language completely foreign to you?).
That is why many also opine that no story is ever completely original. There are only so many original ideas in the world, in human psyche at least, and every one of them has already been explored. So, whatever story you’re working on right now, you’re trying to tell one that has already been narrated; be it via the written word or by word of mouth.
So, what keeps your effort apart and makes it genuine? The fact that you are trying to tell the story in your own voice.
That is also why, even if there’s a book already out there with a plot line similar to yours, there’s nothing earth-shattering about it. Your book, when it’s done, will still be different from that one, because:
- Not every twist in the book’s plot could be similar to those in yours
- Your voice is your own, which makes your book different from every other one out there
- Your character development is bound to take its own unique path
- Your setting will have aspects that belong to you, your experiences, and your past and present, which makes it original in its own right
And look at the brightest fact of all:
If a book similar to the one that you’re writing has already been published, then it can only mean one thing…
There is an audience out there that is ready, with its appetite already whetted, for your book.