Stolen Commonality (or at least shared)

There is a saying that every idea has already been done, that there are no new plot lines or ideas in this world. I don’t know if I believe that, but there is something to be said for the theory.

When I was a kid, I thought of two ideas which I thought were wonderful (still do, actually). Years later, I found out that there was one which was written in a fantasy novel written long before I was born (which I had never had the joys of experiencing). The other was featured prominently in a video game which came out several years after I had the idea.

I have had this happen to me twice in recent memory. I was thinking about a steampunk novel and/or short story when I decided to listen to an audio book I had recently acquired. It was my plot, but in a completely different setting. I mean, it was remarkably similar. From the characters to the plot line itself to the meeting place of the two main characters to a quirk about the main hero…shit, even to the sidekick seemed to have been ripped screaming from my head and put on paper by someone else. It actually gave me chills.

Another time it was just the basic idea that someone turned into a movie, but the actual plot was so wildly different that I don’t really include it. Then tonight I was listening to another book whose course I figured out early on, and it was something I was planning to do with my current series of novels. Granted, this author is a millionaire (probably hundreds of times over) and she did an amazing job and there are many differences, but there are also enough similarities to make me rethink the plot of my future novels. It will only seem like a pale copy now.

Now, I don’t for a second think that any of these things are in any way related to me. It’s beyond absurd to even consider it. I’d be a goddamned idiot to even entertain the thought for a moment. It’s simply not possible in a single one of these cases. It’s also not possible for me to have copied them, considering my complete ignorance of these works before setting on my creative journeys (which, bless my little heart, I thought were so unique).

My reaction to these things has matured over time. When I was a kid, I thought it was awesome that someone else — in Japan, no less — had a similar idea, though the methodology and ramifications I came up with were very much different.

The idea that became a movie I had to change not at all. We had a similar character. That’s it.

The steampunk thing I abandoned. There was no saving my plot. But there were little nuggets of ideas and basic characters which were very good, and I eventually took those and came up with a plot too huge for my current abilities (but better for me than my original idea).

Now…I’m torn. It would be like writing a good, sympathetic vampire novel only to have Interview with the Vampire come out and obliterate your thunder. Do I continue with what I had planned all along? Do I change it while the motivations of characters are still mostly in my head and only the beginnings are hinted at in my first novel?

Probably not. Every idea has been done. Everything has already been said. In my wildest dreams I would approach the popularity and recognition of this other author (and the money wouldn’t be bad, if I’m to be honest), but in reality those chances are slim. All I can do is be true to myself. You change enough to not seem outright plagiaristic, and suck up the rest. I’m trying to remain positive and actually succeeding.

In the end, though, I’m happy and in a strange way honored. In every one of these cases, the books or video games were wildly popular and bring joy to millions. While I can only hope that I have the talent to execute my ideas well (or can grow into it), I at least know that my brain, my creativity, and my spirit can come up with some goddamned good ideas. The proof is over there on that shelf. It will happen from time to time. You have to accept it and move on.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some happy brainstorming to do.

~ by Darren Endymion on December 3, 2015.

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