That horrible moment when you think the story you’re writing has already been written

Overwhelmed with too many tasks - Nikki Young Writes

Photo via Marcolm at freedigitalphotos.net

 

My troublesome YA novel has been put firmly to one side whilst I’ve been concentrating on my middle grade books. However, it’s always on my mind and now and again, I go back to it to continue formulating a plan of how I’m going to tackle it.

Things got even more troublesome the other day though when I came across a book, whilst searching the Kindle store, that seemed to be the exact same story.

SOMEONE HAS WRITTEN MY BOOK

At least, that’s what I first thought. The concept and the premise were the same: someone who can see dead people and knows a girl has been murdered, not runaway. Argh!

After calming down, I downloaded the book and read it. It’s not the same. Phew. But there are other similarities that had me feeling a little queasy:

The main character is Mattie
Her boyfriend is Jake
The police officer who helps her is Dan

In my story, the main character is Jake. He has a brother called Mattie and the boyfriend of the dead girl is Dan.

What do you do when you come across something like this?

I swear I have never seen or come across this author and her work before, it’s pure coincidence, but it gave me a shock. On the positive side, as I said already, the stories do differ and I guess it proves this sort of story can be published and people are buying it. But at the same time, this is another reason to doubt where I am going with this book and yet again has me questioning whether I should bother at all.

If I can taking anything positive out if this experience, it will be that I can use this shock to figure out what my story has to offer that is different. Thinking about the various ways I’ve been trying to tackle it so far, I’m going to have another look at how I can make it work. This wasn’t what I was planning on doing for National Novel Writing Month this year, but I think this now might be the project I choose to work on.

What do you think?

Comments (12)

  1. Rebecca Ann Smith 26th October 2016 at 7:14 pm

    You’re thinking about it in the right way – it’s an opportunity to work out what makes your story distinctive. Every story’s already been told in some form or other after all… And you can change the names easily enough. Good luck with it πŸ™‚

  2. suz 26th October 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Wow, that is some crazy lot of coincidences. Better to have found out now. It’s great that you can look at the positives. Have fun reworking the story and good luck with NaNo.
    #WhatImWriting

  3. themotherhub 27th October 2016 at 9:29 am

    that’s crazy that there were so many similarities – just goes to show how the human brain works. I think you have the right idea – use it as inspiration to pick out differences in your own story – which sounds great by the way. well done on what you have achieved so far- its hard to do what youre doing! #whatimwriting

  4. sophieblovett 27th October 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Oh I can so empathise with you on this! As I was working through one of the many edits of my second novel, which I was struggling with partly because its premise is admittedly a little bit ‘out there’, I came across a (successfully published book) with the exact same premise! It floored me at first, and given that the author is so successful I still don’t know if the effect might be terminal… But looking at it with a positive spin it does at least mean that my bonkers idea is perhaps not entirely unmarketable. And she writes chick lit, whereas my interpretation of the story was somewhat darker… I guess we just have to pick ourselves up and carry on, right? And if you can use this experience to tighten up your own story then so much the better πŸ™‚ xx

  5. maddy@writingbubble 28th October 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I can see how it gave you a shock but I think you’re exactly right to view it in the way that you are – there is clearly a market for your book! I think there is no truly original story but every writer tells their story in a different way and that’s where the uniqueness comes in. Your book might end up even better for the extra attention you’re going to give it. Good luck with it. Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting xx

  6. Alice @ The Filling Glass 31st October 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Oh my goodness, that must have been a shock to see all those similarities. But at least you have looked at the problem proactively rather than reactively. Finding the uniqueness of your story and highlighting it has to be good for making it better. I believe conincidence happens for a reason. Xx

  7. mamaelsie 2nd November 2016 at 10:59 am

    How strange! And whilst I spend an age deciding on my character’s names I guess they could be changed. So it may be a good idea to go back to it and with some re-editing, change of narrative viewpoint you might find the tweaks you do take it in a different direction. Good luck!

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