Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's my idea!


Forge (v): 1. to form by heating and hammering; beat into shape. 2. to form or make, especially by concentrated effort: to forge a friendship through mutual trust. 3. to imitate (handwriting, a signature, etc.) fraudulently; fabricate a forgery

I was talking to my neighbour about my next novel in progress. I bet she could see my eyes glistening with pride as I went into the story and how excited I was about the idea. I already had over 30K of the work and it was action from the first page. 

(note: I'm paraphrasing the conversation)
Suddenly she says: "You know, it really sounds like (she named a book)."

Me: "What? I never heard of such book."

She said: "I read it in high school. It was part of our reading."

Me: "Well, it has to be different, because (this and this happens in my book)."

She said: "OMG! That's exactly what happens in that book!"

(At this point I can hear all my feelings of being unique and extraordinary of this brand new, wonderful idea flush down the toilet.)
Me: "Are you playing with me?"

She said: "No! I'm serious!"

(The glow fades from my face.)
Me: "Crap! I have to read that book!"
(That's when I fell of my cloud nine.)

I have not yet read the book she suggested. We went further into the conversation and I decided that even though the concept is similar, my novel and the direction I want to take are different. It was scary though how close some of my descriptions were to what she told me about the book. So yes, I will be reading it over Christmas to decide if I'm "stealing" someone's idea. But my question is: "Is it stealing?"

I know for a fact there are writers who have never met each other, never read each others work, live probably on the opposite coasts, yet their writing style, concepts, genre, character traits etc are eerily similar.

When I wrote Two Halves I was afraid to use the "sound of cicadas" in one of my descriptions because the book that inspired me to write had it (I wrote my description before reading the book - the movie inspired me to write, I wrote, then read the book later). I'm not afraid of things like that anymore, because how many different ways can you write "a gust of wind", "the breeze was light". There are plenty of novels using them.

My point is, that THIS one is MY idea! It came from a real life inspiration that happened in 2010, so I cannot imagine how an author (whose name I don't know yet) who wrote the book probably 20 years ago could steal my idea.

If you like the craze around the Hunger Games Trilogy, you'll like this piece of work. The MC lives in an oppressed society like Katniss did (no there are no games in my novel) and I can't yet say more than that - but it's cool. I'm beginning to think what the title should be and what the cover should look like. There are few ideas floating in my head, but until I write more I won't know for sure.

I guess at this point all I can do is read the novel my neighbour mentioned and see how eerily similar we are.

Do you find yourself writing in the same style as other authors? Readers, do you find some authors have similar styles? Did you ever have an idea stolen? (I know I thought about roller blades way before they were invented.)


Annalisa Crawford said...

There are only a finite number of storylines - but, you're right, it's the way you execute your story that will make it stand out from the others. Write your novel first, then read the other book (just to confirm that you are unique and different!)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Annalisa is right - there are only so many storylines, but it's our take that makes them different. I'm sure yours will have a totally unique spin on it.
Several have mentioned that my first book reminds them of Ender's Game - more the feeling of than the overall plot. I've never read it though!