Hey, Haven’t I Had That Idea Before?

Posted: November 7, 2014 in ideas, Living and Life, Writing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

So last night, it’s very late and I’m exhausted. I’m getting ready for bed when an idea for a short story comes to me all of a sudden. I go to write it down in the notebook I carry around with me, so that in the morning I can write it down in the morning on the list I keep on my flash drive for stories. But just as I’m about to write it down, a thought occurs to me: Haven’t I had this idea before? As I think about it, I recall an idea, very vaguely, of a short story idea that sounds very similar to the one I just came up with, but I can’t remember that well.

I don’t feel like booting up my laptop and logging in just so I can look up something on my flash drive and then shutting down again. So I scribble myself a note reminding me to see if I already had this idea and I go to bed. The next morning (or I guess this morning) I see the note, get on my laptop, and pull up my list of short story ideas (now up to 367 ideas since the last time I added an entry. God help me find the time to write them all). I type in some relevant key words into the “Find” feature, and sure enough, entry number 108 matches the idea I had last night. The only differences were the genders were switched on the characters.

At that point, I felt a little silly. I know it’s common for authors to have similar ideas across all their works (Joss Whedon has powerful organizations whose very purpose allows them to wield strong influence in nearly every sphere of society, HP Lovecraft has those slithery Cthullu creatures, William Shakespeare had more than a few manipulative villains who seemed honest on the surface but were vile beasts underneath it all). Heck, a lot of my ideas involve female protagonists who rise to the occasion after travailing over several obstacles. I just never expected to happen across the same idea like that.

At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that this has probably happened before.

As for the idea that I had last night…well, maybe I’ll keep it, maybe I won’t. I know there’s room for variation, but the question is, do I want to do it if it sounds so similar to my previous idea, and should I do it when it seems so similar?

If you ever find two short stories of mine and they have similar plots behind them, as well as characters, settings, and whatever else, you’ll know the answer I came to.

Have you ever had an idea that was very similar to a previous idea? How did you deal with it?

By the way, there’s only 7 more days to buy Reborn City at discount price or participate in the special giveaway for a free copy. Better get on that while you still have the chance!

  1. Maybe it’s a good thing they were so similar! It just proves that that sort of stories stuck with you and probably won’t go away until you’ve written it down in one form or another. It doesn’t mean you have to write both ideas, because maybe a mix of them works best. That’s what I would think.

  2. bfostrickson says:

    I think it happens to us all, but I believe it makes us better writers. Like the comment before mine mentions, it’s likely a story that won’t go away until you’ve let it out. Merge the two if it makes a better story, but it’s just your brain’s way of pointing out something you hadn’t thought of yet.

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