Is Any Story Idea Ever Original?

Is any idea ever original? I mean, let’s admit, there are a lot of storylines that seem similar. As a writer, I always wonder if the story I’m working on is unique. Will the reader be intrigued? Will my characters “make” the story? 
Well, was I in for a shock when I recently read a first-time author’s romance ebook that I purchased. I follow her on Twitter and was excited to find about her book coming out. As I excitedly read chapter after chapter, I was pumping up myself about trying to push myself to get my first book out there. Especially since she and I talked several months ago about whether self-pubbing or the traditional publishing route was the way to go. Then suddenly, I hit a part of the book that sounded eerily like an element I have incorporated into my project.
I swallowed a lump and did a double-take. Now, the element is not something new that no one has ever used before. So that wasn’t it. The fact that I was reading her book and was working on something with the same situation was a problem in my eyes. Coincidence? Yes, because she and I never discussed book ideas, etc. before.  But I still didn’t want to have the same thing in my book even though her characters and scenes were totally different than mine. If it were some author I hadn’t any contact with before, it probably wouldn’t have bothered me.
I briefly discussed the situation with my husband who only chastised me for dragging my feet about publishing my own work in the first place. He said that if I actually published something, then I wouldn’t have to worry about having the same concepts as other writers.
Back to the drawing board.
So I continued on with her book and there was yet another element that was in my story. As I finished reading, I became bummed. Not because her story wasn’t good because it was phenomenal. I was bummed because I knew I had to go back to the drawing board.
That feeling only lasted a few short hours because I was able to spin my storyline differently. Luckily I was only working on the synopsis and not the full fledge book. As I reworked that one element, I got so excited and was glad I was able to pull something else into the story that made sense.
It brings me back to my first question. Is any story idea ever original? What are your thoughts? As a writer, have you ever had something similar happen?
Categories: amwriting, ebook, fiction, novel, reading, romance, write, writer, writing, ~Me, On Writing and What Not~ | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “Is Any Story Idea Ever Original?

  1. A lot of plot points and storylines are the same. It's our take on it that makes it different. Sounds like you were able to adjust. Don't stress it!

  2. Thanks, Alex!

  3. I have had something similar happen and it is definitely a bummer, but you totally handled it the right way! Now you have something new and different for your novel, which probably means it'll be unexpected for your readers, which will make a more enjoyable read

  4. I'm so glad I'm not the only one. I'm so excited about the "new" element so it all worked out!

  5. I agree with Alex J Cavanaugh! I remember about 30 years ago, I wrote the harmony to some music my brother wrote, and we just kept it to ourselves, not taking it seriously. Then a few years later, TLC debuted their first song, 'aint to proud to beg.' My brother and I were pissed! It was the same harmony! Thanks for adding me to your blog reading list, by the way!

  6. OMG! That is crazy! You're welcome. I rather enjoyed myself while I was there so I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything! And thanks for doing the same!

  7. Melissa, sorry. I've read books that have parts that are similar to mine. Since I am writing nonfiction, I continued with my project as it's my experience even if something similar happened to someone else.

  8. I guess we all experience similar happenings in life but have our own take on them.

  9. I think at this point, just about everything is a rerun.

  10. It sure feels that way!

  11. We all bring something new and different to our stories. For me, I try as much as possible to go with a scenario that’s not your everyday fare. Keep working on getting your book. You’re doing the right thing.

  12. Hi Melissa! I definitely have experienced this. And like your husband, I scolded myself for dragging my feet for YEARS of not even finishing the manuscript in question. The other thing that’s happened, in a similar vein, is that I come up with what I think is a clever or unique title, only to have another book come out with a similar title. Talk about being bummed. ARGH!

    I think, to a degree, it’s true that most stories aren’t really original in the purest sense of the word. Most new stories are just a new way of telling an old story, or perhaps a clever mashup of two common story ideas. It’s the richness of the characters and the writer’s unique voice that make the story feel fresh.

    • Yes, you are so right. Thanks for pointing that out.

      I have seen books, songs AND movies with the exact same titles before but I think that’s inevitable. it’s what’s behind the title that counts.

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