Too Similar to Another Story

by Jessica
(North Carolina)

Question: So, the novel I'm writing is set is a Superhero/Supervillain world and is about a preteen girl who discovers she is a Mad Scientist. She goes to a superhero school, only to discover firsthand what she already knows.

Mad Scientists never fight on the front lines.

At first she's tolerant because, honestly, she literally just got her powers recently. Eventually she realizes she's not content merely being the backer to another super with fighting powers, and declares that she, too, will be a Sidekick. What I'm worried about is that it will be too similar to a book I have recently discovered and fallen in love with: Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain. Here are the similarities I have and feel really against changing because of how important to the plot it is.

MC is a Mad Scientist.
She sometimes goes into a trance when inventing.
She goes to a School for Supers.
She's trying to work in the big leagues, even though she's a Mad Scientist (PDTMPIS: kid).
She has semi-sentient inventions that are like sidekicks/pets.
She has two teammates who support her career and she was friends with them first.

Even if my novel is deemed dissimilar enough by you guys, I would really appreciate it if you could tell me if it's too similar to any other novel you guys have read (It's a YA). Thanks.

Answer: In addition to the book you mention, your idea sounds a lot like the film Sky High.

However, originality in the premise or plot is only one factor. Lots of books are inspired by earlier works. What matters more is...

1. Characters: How original and intriguing they are, the unique inner conflict your main character experiences.

2. Style and voice: Do you have an interesting and unique way of telling the story that sets your book apart from others in this sub-subgenre?

3. Twists: What sort of variation(s) on this premise and plot can you introduce that make your book different?

4. Audience: Is your book designed to appeal to a different generation/audience than the earlier works?

Bear in mind that ideas cannot be copyrighted, only the expression of the ideas in words, the unique form your story takes. That is where your originality must come from.

Ideally, you want your story to be so different on the surface that few people will even realize what earlier works inspired you.

But someone would need to look at a rough draft or partially completed manuscript to make that call.

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