You get a brilliant idea.You write it out. You’re excited because it’s original and moving. You can’t wait for the world to read it.It’s nearly done. Then a friend recommends a book. You start reading and your face sours. It’s strikingly similar to your own story. There are differences, sure, but too many similarities to feel comfortable.
How did you and this other author somehow cross wires and come up with something so alike?
Will anyone believe that you thought up your story’s idea far before you ever heard of the book in your hand?
Ever had this happen to you? Unfortunately, it has happened to me, and other writers I know. It feels so weird and so wrong. But the fact is, it’s ok–and I want to prove to you that your story is unique.
Ideas, thoughts, conversations, stories, and much more are streaming all over the earth all the time. Many people quote the old saying, “There is nothing new under the sun.” “It’s all been written before…” If that’s true, why keep writing?
My former teacher said that during his creative writing classes, Lord Of The Rings and Narnia were coming out in film, and subsequently everyone and their mother tried to recreate them. Eventually, he refused to read anything in the genre for years.
But there is something that can give us hope in our writing, because there is something new that comes out every day, every minute, for the very first time.
A new human.
Each human is unique. There is not one person, not even one twin that is the same. We each have our own features, thoughts, dreams, and experiences. There are no clones (yet) that resemble another person in his/her fullness, and if one day my clone makes its appearance, it can never live the life I have lived. The future, according to Yoda, is always in motion — we cannot relive the past.
Now that we have determined there is something new under the sun, we can apply this to our writing life. Translation: We can never write another persons story, and they can never write our story. Our stories may overlap unintentionally. While some may jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of its success, (you know, like the long haul of dystopians), each story still has its own characteristics. We still need more than one pediatrician in the world, more than one math teacher; we need more than one writer with more than one book talking about your favored subject or story. So whatever idea you have, form it in the only way that you can. Just like you are unique, so will your story be unique.
- Your voice is unique. Practice it. Develop it. Then your story will become unique to you. No one can mimic your voice. *Learn more about voice here and here.
- Your imagination is unique. Dream. Someone once said, write as if you no one was watching, and then an unforgettable story will emerge. Click here for ideas.
- Avoid cliches.
- Get Beta Readers for feedback. Ask them what doesn’t feel original. Then brainstorm on how you can change it. *For more on beta readers click here.
- Look for story ideas in unusual places. Click here for ideas.
- Don’t give up. In a section of the old testament written thousands of year ago, it talks about the writing industry — and it has proved to be very true. It says that “the writing of books will never end”… so I figure its a pretty good business to be in