Similarities to other works

by Danie

Question: What do you do when you come up with an idea and plot for a novel, and it turns out that another author has already written something very similar?

Answer: You change something.

This is how genres are created.

Imagine the writer who invented the first love story involving a romantic triangle. (It might have been Homer's story about Paris, Helen, and Menelaus. I'm not sure off-hand.)

Another writer then comes along and thinks, "I like that story, but wouldn't it be interesting if..." Then he/she writes a story with a twist on that idea.

Thousands of years later, writers are still writing fresh, original stories about romantic love triangles, and readers are having fun reading them and trying to decide if they are Team Peeta or Team Gale, Team Edward or Team Jacob.

And romance has become the biggest selling genre.

Genres also come in waves. For instance, when Harry Potter looked certain to become a huge publishing success, publishers started looking for other urban fantasy YA books to print so they could take advantage of the craze. So many books about teenage vampires, werewolves, and other fantasy creatures came out, each one offering their own twist on the core idea.

Your story doesn't have to be entirely original. There's nothing wrong with writing within a particular genre. You just need to put your own twist on an existing idea. Perhaps you add an element that you haven't seen before, or you take away something, or you change one element into something else. Maybe you cast a very different person in the role of main character, or you change some of the circumstances, etc.

Once you have a new twist, that will dictate other changes. The result should be a story idea that seems fresh and exciting. If not, try again.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero