Writing a novel and then realize another book has a similar plot?

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redsun28

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I had an interesting and unique idea for a novel and started writing last year. I've recently typed up the plot on google and found out another published book has a similar (but of course, some parts are very different) plotline. The characters seem to be somewhat similar too (but not sure because I've never read this book)

What should I do. Should I change my story slightly or just give up on it?


....this sucks...
 

Cato

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I'm worried about the same thing. I'm fairly certain my fantascifi concept is original, but who knows. I'm too worried to check google.
 

redsun28

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I'm worried about the same thing. I'm fairly certain my fantascifi concept is original, but who knows. I'm too worried to check google.

yeah, my current book is fantasy...the problem is that I've already written a lot of it and now finishing it up...I can't believe the plot of my book (and what made it unique) has already been told...
 

EriRae

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Finish your book. Read the other book. Revise your book to make it BETTER than the other book. And so different that no one would guess that you ever considered the two to be similar.


ETA: Just to emphasize: FINISH YOUR BOOK FIRST.
 

ejket

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What do you mean "typed up the plot on google"?

Anyway, plots are not often as unique as people think they are. The art is in the execution. If you're really worried, investigate the book more closely, though usually this amounts to a false scare.
 

redsun28

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What do you mean "typed up the plot on google"?

I was very broad. For example, if the other book was twilight, I would type "girl falls in love with vampire." or something similar
 

redsun28

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Finish your book. Read the other book. Revise your book to make it BETTER than the other book. And so different that no one would guess that you ever considered the two to be similar.


ETA: Just to emphasize: FINISH YOUR BOOK FIRST.

What if the other book is sort of popular (not bestseller, but I've heard the name before...I think in some magizene)


will I ever get sued if it is slightly similar? For example, could JK Rowling sue another author if they write about a magical school? (don't worry, my book is not about magic or a school, haha it was just an example)
 

EriRae

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What if the other book is sort of popular (not bestseller, but I've heard the name before...I think in some magizene)


will I ever get sued if it is slightly similar? For example, could JK Rowling sue another author if they write about a magical school? (don't worry, my book is not about magic or a school, haha it was just an example)

I'm guessing here (and I hope someone more knowledgable will back me up or correct me if I'm wrong) that your agent/publisher would tell you to make changes if they were necessary before publication. They're ultimately the ones who would get sued for infringement. Ideas are free to all, so don't be afraid to have them (or borrow them, or even outright steal them).


ETA: sorry--guessed
 

Blondchen

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Actually, there was a series of books about young wizards written well before the inception of Harry Potter. I don't remember any law suits...

This comes up alot in the realm of screenplays. There are whole legal statutes written on the subject.

Like everyone else has said: finish the book and let someone else worry about it.
 

Donkey

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I had a similar problem, even up to and including the title. It was a shock, let me tell you. The type of location, the motivation for the main characters, the beginning plot and the title were all very, very similar. I found it in a used book store. When I saw the title, I was irritated with myself for not having checked around before deciding it was a good working title. Then I saw the cover art and realized that the location was similar. That led me to read the synopsis on the back cover. The first three lines were identical to the lead-in to my story. Aaaaarrrrrgggghhh!!!
Luckily, that's where the similarities came to a screeching halt. It still felt like a Twilight Zone episode. (dating myself)
I agonized over choosing a new working title, of course. I'm not nearly as happy with the substitute, but what can I do?
I realize that many books and films have identical or similar titles, and not much is said or done about that, but add the similarity in plot to the mix and it's just too weird.
I mentioned the situation to a couple of friends, and predictably, they both intimated that I must have read the other book, forgotten about it, and subconsciously dredged up the details later. Blah, blah, blah. I could have shot them both. Didn't happen. No way, no how. I'm extremely self aware.
Sooooooo, I feel ya. I'm also sure we're both way more worried about it than we need to be. ;)
 

virtue_summer

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will I ever get sued if it is slightly similar? For example, could JK Rowling sue another author if they write about a magical school? (don't worry, my book is not about magic or a school, haha it was just an example)

I believe there were books written about magic schools before and after Rowling started writing the Harry Potter books. Seriously, don't worry about a plot that "sounds similar." Chances are what you do with it and what another author does with it end up being completely different. Really, look at how many haunted house stories there are, for example, and yet there are authors who still manage to tell stories around that idea that come across as unique and new. It's how you tell the story that matters, not the bare bones idea itself.
 

Birol

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That's a good question right now.
My initial reaction to your dilemma was, "Yes. And?"

This is a non-issue. So many books have similar themes and plots... I could go to my personal bookshelf and identify several that have the same or similar plots. Likewise into any bookstore or public library.

Literature is interconnected. This means it echoes the same stories back and forth, from author to author. Your story is not and will not be unique. What makes it special is how you tell it.

The best thing you can do is write it until The End and make it the best it can be.
 

ChaosTitan

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Echoing what others have said, there will always be something similar to your book. Don't let that stop you from writing it. By the time you finish your book, polish it, and go through the agent/publisher hunt, it will be at least two years down the road. Long enough for "similar" books on the market now to fade away.

Heck, I was sure the book my agent is shopping was pretty unique, but we had one editor turn us down, because she was currently working on a "similar" project.

Write it. Enjoy the process. :)
 

quickWit

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I had something for this...
My latest project is about a middle-aged man struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one. I'm pretty sure that's been done before. :)

Who cares? Finish your book. Make it great. Good luck!
 

DeleyanLee

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I had an interesting and unique idea for a novel and started writing last year. I've recently typed up the plot on google and found out another published book has a similar (but of course, some parts are very different) plotline. The characters seem to be somewhat similar too (but not sure because I've never read this book)

What should I do. Should I change my story slightly or just give up on it?

You mean like Lord of the Rings and Sword of Shanara?

It happens all the time. Write your story and don't look back. And, personally, I would not read the other book--plagerizing is a willful act, and if you've never experienced the other book, there's less of a case.
 

tehuti88

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Keep at it. By the time you're done, the existing book will be older, maybe forgotten or in the background, and like you said, your story isn't exactly the same. Don't worry about the similarities for now, just write YOUR story and see if you can get it finished. It's too soon to worry about it being too alike someone else's story. Even if it is, that shouldn't stop you from putting hard work into it.

I put a lot of work into a story once until stopping one day and realizing, it seemed like a blatant ripoff of Watership Down! o_o;; I'd seen the movie but not read the book, but it was similar enough. I suspended work on that out of terrible embarrassment. But I've never truly given up on it. I know it could be reworked enough so that it's not a knock-off of that story.

If your story is so SHOCKINGLY similar to the one you Googled, then you might need to redirect your attentions, or rework it, so it comes out differently--which is what I would have to do (seriously, I don't have tons of rabbits, and the basic plot is different, but there's an animal quest, and there's a goofy bird with an accent--that's similar enough for me :eek: )--but still, please don't give up on it entirely. It could turn out completely different, you never know. Heck, my story probably would have turned out nothing like Watership Down at all--except for the big goofy bird!

--she who also has a story featuring rodents in WWII and was stunned to realize that somebody had already done that :eek:
 

Ugawa

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I know it's a annoying. I found out the book i'm writing is similar to an anime in japan :l. Luckily i'm only on the like page 20 so i was able to go back to my plan and change loads of things so now it isn't similar

XX
 

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I ran across a lot of this before I retired from photography.

"I took a picture of a tree! You can't take a picture of a tree."

Wrong, bucko. If I photograph my tree from a different angle in different light, etc....it's my original photo.

Also, I picked up a book the other day by one of my favorite authors that looked like it would interest me. I was in about 10 pages and said to self. "Wow, she's been taking lessons from [another of my favorite authors]." Both books were good and no actual details were the same, but I did come away with the feeling that and copied [A], even though it wasn't so.

Tell your story your way, in your words, and it will be yours.
 

maestrowork

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Write it.

Finish it.

Polish it.

Read the other book and you'll find that the similarities end rather quickly. And sometimes it's not totally about originality, but execution. Some classic writers borrowed shameless from other writers or materials, but they made it their own.

Write it.

Finish it.

Polish it.
 

redsun28

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Thanks everyone for the feedback! I think I will be continue and polish it. Hopefully no one will think I am stealing another author's idea...


I know it's a annoying. I found out the book i'm writing is similar to an anime in japan :l. Luckily i'm only on the like page 20 so i was able to go back to my plan and change loads of things so now it isn't similar

XX

which anime?!~
 

redsun28

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And, personally, I would not read the other book--plagerizing is a willful act, and if you've never experienced the other book, there's less of a case.

how can it be proven that someone read a book?

I haven't read it...LOL I don't think I will, it would make me paranoid!
 

DeleyanLee

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how can it be proven that someone read a book?

I haven't read it...LOL I don't think I will, it would make me paranoid!

I'm not sure--but I'm not a intellectual property lawyer. I'm sure there's ways to find out, though.
 

emeraldcite

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I don't know about anyone else, but when I read something that's pretty good, I tend to search out more books like it. For example, I like books with xenoarcheology which appears quite a bit in Jack McDevitt's books.

Since I like that kind of book and read all of his, I'm constantly searching for more novels with that same idea...

Just write it.
 
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