It’s rare to run into another wanna-be writer, but occasionally I get the privilege, though sometimes it’s more of a headache. Like the time I ran into a guy who told me about his favorite authors/books and what he loved about them. He also went into great detail of a novel he was working on. It was almost exactly like the novel of his #1 favorite author. I remember saying something like ‘So in other words it’s just like Ms. Blahblahs’ novel but set in Kentucky instead of Kansas’. Needless to say he wasn’t happy with my response, and we never talked ‘shop’ again…
(No worries people, this was long ago and he never wrote the book. I just happened to see his name on Facebook and got inspired myself, ha ha.)
I know that there are no, quote on quote, original ideas anymore. That anyone can find something out there that is similar. I know everyone is influenced by someone. Also, I know some concepts/characters/storylines are just so kick ass that people want to write about it too. Trust me, I like to write stories, I get it. My problem is when a series, character, or world by a new author is the exact replica of another’s. I don’t see that as showing respect or honoring a favorite author. That, dear child, is copying, and it’s illegal!
If your favorite author has a series with a sarcastic vampire hunter with short black hair, always wears blood red, high heel boots and her favorite weapon of choice is a crossbow, do not for the love of all things holy write about the exact same set up! Vampire hunters are kick ass, I know! You like a snarky sense of humor? Me too! But you don’t have to tell the same jokes as some else. The chick could be blonde, use a wooden stake, and prefer orange boots with lilies on them, for Pete’s sake. Hell, it could be a man! There is no need whatsoever to copy and paste some else’s story/idea. You aren’t improving it! You aren’t coming up with a new twist just because you changed names and location! You are copying. You are also doing yourself an injustice, not just because this is illegal, but because baby, you could have killed a story just using your own material.
I get that sometimes this is an accident. Let’s face it, you can’t read every tome out there to make sure yours isn’t exactly the same. But there are only so many similarities one story can have with another, or others, before someone realizes the jig is up.
So, this is a friendly note to any fellow wanna-be author out there. Please, please, please, explore, imagine, and create all on your own! Yes, get ideas from other authors, that is a given! But ideas as in writing techniques, NOT specific details about characters or worlds. Because someone out there will notice and you will pay for it.