RTW: Double Take

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What SNI (shiny new idea) were you psyched to work on, but discovered it was too close to something already done?

The instance that really made me worry was when someone on Absolute Write made a comment about how my Spirits from the Vasty Deep description sounded like the Bloody Jack series--I rushed over to Amazon and read the blurb, which only deepened my worry into panic. There were some major similarities in their maritime adventures . . . But once I got my hands on Bloody Jack, it was obvious that the two books were completely different in tone, scope, and language. Whew!

They share a 19th century setting and a clever, sometimes saucy main character, but that was about it. Not even really enough similarities to use it as a comp title (the two I use are The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and the Blossom Culp books), but I think readers that enjoy one might enjoy the other.

But my teenaged attempts at novels were definitely straddling the line between an homage and outright fan fiction, though I couldn't see it at the time. I think that's part of finding your voice, trying on other people's to see how they fit, and for a while I was Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, Sheri Tepper, Tanith Lee, Robin McKinley, and so on. And all in one book, I might add. Ouch.

What about you, have you ever poured your heart and soul into a book, only to discover someone else beat you to it? Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!


Jaime Morrow said...

Ooo, loved CHARLOTTE DOYLE :-) I think you're totally write about the homage/fan fiction thing and finding your voice. I sometimes catch myself almost mimicking someone else's style and have to reign myself in. I want my own voice, my own style. Great post! :-)

Unknown said...

Yep, when you really love an author and their style it's only natural to try and imitate it. I went through my own high school fanwriting. (my story based on the movie Labyrinth is a pretty good example.)

Oh, and I share a character design with Neil Gaiman. His was out ten years before mine. They just happen to have the same hairdresser and tailor. I was a bit embarrassed when I found out, though.

Crystal said...

I'm glad your concept turned out to be so much different! I think people will always try to make comparisons with similar works, so I think as long as your story stands out enough, it will not feel too derivative.

I've had the similar idea issue a few times, but thankfully, I never got to the point of actually writing them.

Colin Smith said...

"I think that's part of finding your voice, trying on other people's to see how they fit..." I think you're right about this. Imitation is part of our experimentation until we find our own voice.

Alison Miller said...

It IS about finding your voice. I was super similar to the great James Patterson for a while, but I think I'm finally falling into my own...and I love it.

Excellent post!

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

Rena J. Traxel said...

I once wrote a picture book that someone said sounded like a rip-off from another book. I was devasted, but thankful someone mentioned it before I sent it out to a publisher!

beck nicholas said...

Once someone read a story i'd written and basically accused me of copying... only i'd never read the original. And never did.

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