When you’re writing a book, one of the primary concerns is creating an original work. Is the plot too similar to that book you read last week? Are the characters strangely reminiscent of your favorite movie characters? Does your dialogue feel like it was plucked from that screenplay your friend dragged you to?
The issue is when multiple points (dialogue, plot, characters, setting, tone, etc.) start to line up with a single work. It’s OK if your character is as kick-ass as Calaena from Throne of Glass or as quick-witted as The Doctor from Doctor Who. It’s OK if your plot is set in the same era as Game of Thrones, or that some of your Sci-Fi technology resembles the inventions created in Star Wars.
What we write is built on what was already written. It’s inevitable that you’ll find parallels. If you start finding a staggering number of unexpected parallels, don’t freak out! You don’t need to throw your manuscript into a drawer, hidden from the light of day for all eternity. It’s as simple as tweaking your story.
If you find out that two characters in your book have the same profession as two characters in a book with a similar plot, don’t freak out. You don’t need to kill the character or rewrite them entirely. Maybe tweak their profession into something that fits into the plot more seamlessly.
If your kingdom has a tyrannical ruler who wants to enslave the main character’s homeland, have an original why.
If your cast and crew seems too similar to that other book, throw people for a flip and change the gender of a character. You’ll be surprised at how much gender roles play into our character casting. Changing a gender can change the dynamics of the story.
What about you? What sort of elements in your story have you struggled (and succeeded!) in making original? What types of stories and movies do you find parallels for your story? How do you avoid repeating cliches and picking up other’s works.
What books and movies inspired you?