Friday, February 19, 2010

Ain't Nuthin' New

Read something the other day about a writer who'd posted an excerpt of one of her books and she got an email from some 'concerned person' that the names of her characters were the same as characters in a television show. The implication was that she had 'copied' those names and used them in her book. The male character (the hero) had an unusual name but it is 'out there' and has been for a very very long time. The woman's name? Ordinary in every way. We've all known someone by this name and have read it a gazillion times in a million books. AND she wasn't a central character in this author's story.

Let me just say this. There are no new plots or new names. Everything has been used before in some way, shape or form. What makes each story different is the individual author's voice. An author who uses the pen name Nora isn't guilty of stealing from the other very famous Nora. If you have a character named Mary are you 'stealing' from the other authors who have heroines named Mary? Get my drift? Yes, there are real issues involving plagarizm out there but this involves someone writing the exact thing with no variation of plot twists and lifting exact passages from another book. I'm not an expert on this issue by any means. I've never been accused of it nor known anyone who has but most authors read about this stuff.

We all want to be original, to write something different and unique but the simple fact is this, there will always be something in our story that has been done before. I honestly believe we must just relax, write the story of our heart in our own way and not worry about the rest. Make sense?

13 comments:

Tracy Cooper-Posey said...

Agreed. I've given up worrying about trying to be original, when it comes to my story ideas. I just strive to be original in my delivery. I suspect that readers find comfort in identifying familiary story patterns, in the end -- when the story is done and they recognize the story structure and symmetry underneath, it makes them feel they've read a damned good story. Something too "out there" makes readers (and I'm a reader, too) uneasy. We read popular fiction to be entertained, not to be discomforted. The "novel" aspects come from the new way the author delivers the familiar story patterns.

So yeah, sometimes a story is going to pop up that sounds a little bit too much like one that has come before, and someone is going to point to that other one. It's inevitable.

I try not to lose any sleep over it. As long as readers enjoy my stories, that's the important thing.

Tracy

Regina Carlysle said...

I agree with that wholeheartedly. I swear, if we overanalyze every name, plot point etc, we'll drive ourselves crazy. What's the point? Like I said Ain't Nuthin New. Why should we let that fear stifle our unique voice? I'm not going to do it.

Bronwyn Green said...

On January 19th I released a book from Resplendence Publishing called, Just Right. It's my take on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. On February 3rd Paige Tyler released her take on the same story also called, Just Right, from Ellora's Cave. Both feature werebears as heroes.

Did we scam each other's idea? Hell, no. We don't even know each other. We just happened to come up with the idea of updating the old fairy tale and identical titles at around the same time. Stuff just happens - to be honest, I think it's kinda funny. Obviously we were both under the same idea cloud at the same time. :D

Teri Thackston said...

I heard psychic Marilyn Campbell speak once on the topic of tapping into the great shared consciousness. She gave several examples of similar storylines being released by multiple authors at or around the same time. It's an interesting idea. Me? I just worry about not plagiarizing myself--trying to come up with stories that are in line with my usual style but unique.

Regina Carlysle said...

And Bron? Tia Fanning released Orianna and the Three Werebears at Resplendence. I just think if you go out into 'bookland' you'll find lots of different takes on the old fairy tales...3 Bears, Red Riding Hood etc. Same as with takes on Arthurian Legend, Dracula, The Wolfman etc. Nothing new there.

Regina Carlysle said...

That's interesting, Teri and I think there may be something to it. We all key into universal themes of love, betrayal, etc.

flchen1 said...

Hmm... I agree that you writers have a tough job--readers want fresh stories, yet complain if you're too "out there." As you said, you've just got to follow your muse, and your readers will follow you :)

Kelley Nyrae said...

I agree. It's just too impossible to think there won't be something in everyone's book that has been done in some way. We do our best to be unique, but there are only so many stories or names out there.

Adele Dubois said...

A couple of years ago there was a big kerfluffle involving some guy who angrily accused an author of using his name as the hero in her erotic novel. The man wanted damages, made threats, etc. Of course, the author assured the man the name was coincidental--especially since his was a relatively common name. Nothing ever came of the confrontation as far as I know.

I had to laugh. There were probably thousands of guys who would have bragged about being named a sexy hero in a book.

Best--Adele

Anne Rainey said...

I worry to some extent, but as long as I'm sticking to what my gut tells me to write then I have to believe it'll all work out in the end.

Having said that, however, I will say that a writer did completely steal from me once. It was a strange feeling at the time it happened. And no, it wasn't one of those things where it might just be a coincidence. It was what it was. BUT things have a way of working out. She still isn't published to this day. Gotta think that's karma. LOL

Regina Carlysle said...

Isn't that the truth, Adele! I mean some people are just silly. I've gotten to the point that I won't change a name just because someone else has the same one. First and last both? Might be different. Lets face it, often these characters names come to us and just 'fit' when nothing else will do.

Regina Carlysle said...

It happened to me too, Anne. Also from an unpublished writer. I was pretty upset at the time but I didn't say anything to her. She still isn't published.

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--I didn't say anything either. Others came to me though, mad on my behalf. But I just kept quiet and figured she'd get what she deserved eventually--cheaters and thieves always do.