Friday, July 12, 2013

Writers, what would you do?

I'm still getting up at 5:30 am during the week to work on my MG story. It's mostly adventure, but there are fantastical elements. I'm having fun getting up so early, even if I am drinking a serious amount of coffee.

The other day, I heard of a Big Named MG Author and his Kind of A Big Deal first book in a series that came out (complete with a trailer that noobs like me can only dream of).

All sounds great, except his book/series premise is an awful lot like mine. A lot like mine.

I got a bit discouraged, then I got a bit motivated to make my story better than its current state. I started a new outline, ripped out the comfy "feel good" parts and tried to make things happen faster and bigger. We'll see how it goes.

Question for you: I reserved the book at my local library and I got the call that it's in. I'm not sure if I should read it or not. I will eventually read it, but I'm not sure if reading it right now is a good idea while I'm rewriting my outline. I'd hate to pull elements of that story into mine, and even worse, I'd hate to get so discouraged because the book is great and part of a huge series while mine is just kickin' it here in Google Drive waiting to see light.

What would you do: Read the new release that has so many similarities to your own work, or wait until your own work is closer to finished?

(And TOTAL sidebar: I've been listening to the "Cloud Atlas full soundtrack companion" on YouTube lately. It's amazing. Subtle and intense at the same time--I love it and it's reminding me to watch the movie.)


  1. Wow, that's a tough one. Reading it would mean you'd know what to avoid as far as similarities. But if you don't, and someone says yours is similar, you can honestly claim you never read it.

  2. Yeah, I don't know what's right either. I think I'd be tempted to read it and check it out, but I've done that before with a certain novelist who writes similar stuff to me, and it always depresses me at first. In the end I know our stories aren't similar, but it bothers me that since he's already published, if I include the same sort of stuff I'll be accused of copying. But, some ideas are just universal and we all borrow from them. The trick is to put our personal spin on it I suppose.

  3. That's a tough question! I recently ran into a very similar situation, except YA, not MG. I read the first four chapters and then put the book aside, deeply troubled by the similiarities, and at the same time a little reassured that the book was going in a different direction than mine.

    Reminds me I need to see Cloud Atlas too!

  4. How did i miss this post? WTF?
    Well, you know my feelings on the matter, that you should avoid reading it just in case it messes with your headspace (that's typically my first worry, because it's hard to get any work done if the headspace is messed up)

  5. I wouldn't read it. It would really do a number on my brain and then, like Sarah said, it's downhill from there. But kudos to you for digging in and trying to make your story even better.

  6. I think I'm pretty much on my own with this opinion, but here goes anyway. :-)

    I don't think it matters.

    It doesn't matter if that book is similar to yours or not. It doesn't even matter how similar it might be. For most writers, it's usually never actually as similar as the writer thinks it is. And even if they are similar, they will never be the same book. "Similar" gets a lot of flack from authors who worry about plagiarism or being seen as riding on coat tails, but the worry is usually unfounded. "Similar" is good, especially in MG and YA, because the audience likes what they like and unlike adult readers, they care a lot less about how many times they've read the same werewolf/high school girl love story than they do about, you know, reading badass kissing scenes. The only people who care about similarities between books are adults and authors.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, read it if you want to. Or don't if it's going to stress you out. Re-do your outline if you really truly believe you can make it better, but don't re-do your outline if your only motivation is to make it less like this other book.

    And hi :-) I miss you terribly. I loved reading your email recently. I am glad to see you writing again!

  7. I'm with Adrianne: don't read it, it will mess with your head.

    And I agree with Sommer as well. It doesn't matter. Sure, some people will notice the similarities, and chances are your audience won't care. And of course your execution will be completely different anyway.

    Good luck!


I love getting comments. They're as much fun as getting real snail mail. So please, chime in and tell me what you think!

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