I agree. Although I have occasionally changed a plot point or two that I've seen featured elsewhere I generally would not let the fact that some other writer got there ahead of me interfere with my wish to write a story. Writing is so deeply personal to me, more about the stories I want to tell than about what some critic might say.
I've written a memoir on the years I spent raising my son in a little valley on the island where I live. I wrote the first chapters 15 years ago when the boy was in his early teens and the bulk a few years ago. I planned to submit it to my agent after a final edit.Recently a prominent local personality published a memoir about her young son. I was crestfallen, certain that IF my book was published people would think I was copying her in some way. It's taken me awhile to come to terms with that - just like it took me years to pull out the manuscript for my first novel and submit it after I discovered another local was writing romance for my target publisher; I didn't think there was room for two writers from the same tiny island in their stable.I'm working on not letting these things affect me negatively. Articles like yours help.
I agree that we should write whether or not another writer publishes a similar story. However, there is the issue of plagiarism, intentional or not. People have been sued for plagiarism over similar ideas and plots regardless of whether that person had even read the other writer's work.So we have to be very careful in that respect.
You can't plagiarize an idea. Otherwise there would be only one locked-room mystery or only one. Or only one romance involving mistaken identity, or a beach, or a romance for that matter. And only one vampire story; or werewolf; or zombie (and let's not get into whether or not that would be a good thing). Stories that agree in almost every detail can exist side by side with neither being plagiarized. For example: On the afternoon of Oct. 26, 1881, two groups of men spent about thirty seconds firing as many bullets at each other at a stockyard in Tombstone, Arizona. How many books, stories, comics, and movies have been made about the "gunfight at the OK Coral"?That said, there are always nuisance suits filed by people who don't know better. One of the reasons Pocket Books discontinued the Strange New Worlds writing competition was the advice of legal: an entrant had claimed that the season premier of Enterprise was a ripoff of a story he had submitted. His story had enough similarities to convince an attorney to write a letter threatening suit. The season premier had been filmed months before he wrote the story and the envelope with his submission had not yet been opened by Pocket, but the fact that there had been a threat was enough to convince legal Pocket was potentially vulnerable to future suits. Most pros make sure it's widely known they NEVER read fanfic for this very reason.If you know your story is yours, write it.
I agree with just write the story. There are a lot of ideas, but execution is so individual. Comparing ourselves to others is the kiss of death to creativity I think. Shared this post with some writer friends. We were just talking about authors, envy and comparing as destructive.
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