So, the other day I was reading the January issue of RWR .....Romance Writer's Report....it's the magazine issued by Romance Writers of America. Anyway...there was an article in there by ErinQuinn and Kris Kennedy about the similarity of some books. For instance, when Erin was writing her Mists of Ireland series, she read Karen MarieMoning's Fever series and started freaking out about how similar the stories were, down to having the exact same character! If you have the issue, read it, it's a good article.
So, while I was reading, I kept thinking...Yep. Happened to me too! Shortly after I completed my novel Forget Me Not, I met Allison Brennan at an online forum. She had just released her first book, The Prey (great first book!).
Because Allison was one of the first "real" authors I'd interacted with, I bought the book... well, that and because I love romantic suspense and was looking for new authors to read besides Nora Roberts and Jayne Krentz (not that I don't still LOVE them).
So, anyway, it was several months before I had down time to sit back and read. Forget Me Not was making the rounds and I'd already completed Dark Obsession (coming soon) so I figured, let's read Allison. Well, you can imagine my heartbreak when I started reading. Not only were the plots similar (kinda, sorta), they practically opened the same way! Of course, they weren't the same book...exactly. But the similarities were close enough that my second agent (who turned out to be a waste of two years) didn't want to submit the book to anyone. It was five years after Allison's book came out that my book finally got published. But, another heartbreak happened even after that and again, it was from another one of Allison's books...or rather a non-book. Shortly after Forget Me Not published I'd gone to read a blog post Allison did at the MurderShe Writes blog. She was talking about the first book she'd ever completed. The one that was so bad it was under the bed, gathering dust, and would never see the light of day. Then, she proceeded to describe the plot and some of the really bad scenes and...
I. Thought. I. Was. Going. To. Die!
The scenes she described (in some not so nice ways---I think too convoluted was mentioned once or twice) were some of the same scenes I'd written in my book! Right down to end! Needless to say....I didn't mention I'd written the same book. haha
But, really, there's no getting around writing a book or characters similar to someone else. As Erin says in the article, you're likely both researching the same thing so it's likely that the research will end up in your story. Plus, there are no original plots or archetypes. Just like there are no original titles. If you go to Amazon and plug in your title under Books, you'll find hundreds if not thousands of titles that are the same. Yeah, that can be frustrating too. In fact, shortly after my novel House of Cards debuted, a TV show on Netflix called House of Cards launched and became a big success. Thankfully, the plots aren't the least bit the same.
So, what do you do if you find you're writing a book that's already been written? Well, for one, don't read that book! And, two, just write yours. They may be similar, but, unless you're copying the other one verbatim (plagiarizing), your story will still be different because it's you writing it; your voice, your style, your story.