View Full Version : Envy? Competition? Same region/genre?

04-21-2010, 08:28 PM
I had a kick in the guts yesterday.

I am usually a very happy content person, but this really bothers me.

I am a working journalist in a particular trade. Let's call it ranching.

I wrote a mystery/adventure novel based in the industry some years ago, but never really made a serious effort to get published.

Yesterday a very good old pal who is also a former ranch hand informed me that his very first novel, a murder mystery set on regional ranch land is to be published this autumn.

I've been meaning to get back into that genre as this trade journalism is getting old. But I've learned a lot and have a very good background for setting and characters, etc.

The trouble is that I live in a particular region and I am worried that if I come up with a similar character in a similar region (ie. a ranch hand becomes an amateur sleuth in this region) that I am stealing the idea from my friend.

I guess it's okay if you are talking about a police procedural in a big city, but picking a niche in the mystery genre and being the only one in that niche are a big plus for getting published.

So have I lost the horse out of the barn and can't catch it now?

04-21-2010, 09:05 PM
Your reaction is understandable. It might help to think of the positives in your situation, and there are many. First, you know now that there is a market for this type of book. Readers who like your friend's book may well look for more like it, and that's a big plus, much bigger than being the only one writing in a certain niche. You could also think of it (and talk to your friend about it) as his determination and hard work having inspired you to give your dream another chance.

Read your friend's book. If there are a lot of similarities between your two works, then you know to change those elements in your story. The unique thing about your story is the you in it; the things that fire you up, the focus that your story takes. It might be that changing the shared elements doesn't change that heart of your story.

Something that is often pointed out here is that if you give ten writers the same story idea, they'll produce ten different stories from it. It's true because the ten writers are different people. Try not to worry about superficial similarities: when people read your book, they are going to remember the way it made them feel, and that comes from the way you portray your characters and events, and the themes you hold important.

You know you're not stealing the idea, because you've had it in mind for a while. There are a million stories that you can tell with the basic idea of a ranch hand becoming an amateur sleuth in a particular region. They're all there in your head, made up of your life's experiences and influences. It's very unlikely that the only idea you'll come up with will be the very same one that your friend had.

Talk to your friend about your worries.

I hope you feel less kicked soon.

04-21-2010, 09:35 PM
Could be there's more than one horse in that barn.

04-21-2010, 09:36 PM
EleraSophia is right. Don't look at the negative, look at the positive. You're probably wishing you'd gone ahead and written the story first and have the sinking feeling that maybe he stole your thunder. Not a chance. Ideas are simply that - ideas. The difference between stories that share a similar idea is in the execution.

I see from your profile that you like to hunt and enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. Experiences you've had in that area could lend some interesting twists and your MC could search for clues and the murderer in the woods (behind the ranch say), using the skills you already have and are familiar with.

Don't let it distress you and sap your enthusiasm. Use it to add impetus to your own writing. Do read your freind's story. As you read you will probably think of ways to take the germ of the idea and make it your own.

Good luck!

04-23-2010, 01:41 AM
Who's publishing his book? If it's with Publish America, no one will ever hear of it. If it's with a legit publisher, don't sweat it.

You could ask to read it then make sure YOUR book is different.

If appropriate, let him know you wrote something in the same genre and you don't want to step on his toes should you decide to shop it around Publisher's Row.

Go to this web page (http://www.joebobbriggs.com/jbamerica/1991/jba910510.html), print what's there, and read it every day.

Pay attention to #3 and 4. They apply to you.

Then--- butt in chair. Write.

04-23-2010, 11:32 AM
why do you care what people think? if your book is accepted, by the time it's published etc, it'll be 2 years down the line. at least. And by then the comparisons will be vague at best.

Unless of course he has sold his novel to random house and it becomes a massive international bestseller.