Tuesday, February 23, 2010

That Was MY Idea!!

Oh man! I have to start off this post with some fan-art of awesomeness!!!

The first one is from Laurelle_DaVinchi on the Wingsfansite forums who put together all of my covers including an old fan cover that the lovely Saundra Mitchell made for me. Check this out!!

Thank you, Laurelle!! I love it!!!

The next one is one from a few weeks back that I have been trying to remember to post, but the link is on my phone and I blog on my computer so . . . . anyway, here, you go, from Katie at SophistiKatied!

Isn't that so made of awesome! Please for visit Katie at her blog, she does Fan Art Fridays and really good reviews of lots of YA books. It's a new favorite of mine! Thank you, Katie!!

Okay, so something I often hear from other authors, established or aspiring, is being concerned when they hear about someone else writing the same basic storyline as their WIP. Everyone worries about it--especially if you have a particularly brilliant idea.

But you know what? You may be worrying too much. Editors often say it's all about the execution, and in the area of storylines, that hold true. A couple of examples (please excuse the weird, trying-not-to-be-gender-specific syntax):

"Protagonist A and Protagonist B meet and experience a sudden and deep connection. But can their love survive when Protagonist A wars between loving Protag B and the desire to kill them?"

Think you know what book I'm talking about?

Suuuuure you do.

I'm talking about Evernight, by Claudia Gray, Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain, and the absolutely incredible upcoming Mistwood by Leah Cypess.

Vampires, faeries, werewolves, shifters, they all fit that storyline.

But let's get more specific:

A small town is surrounded by an invisible, impenetrable sphere. The residents must find a way to survive not only their new isolation, but the terrors that they themselves are becoming.

Now do you think you know which book I'm talking about? Because that storyline is pretty dang specific. Do you?

Because it could be Under The Dome, by Stephen King, or it could be Gone, by Michael Grant. Both very good and successful books by NYT Bestselling authors. Totally different books.

I've actually received email from people who are aspiring faerie authors who were like, "I was so worried! I thought your book was just like my book!!" One went so far as to worry if she could be sued for copyright infringement! (No, btw.) But without fail, these authors all commented that within fifty pages it became clear that I was telling a different story than them.

A lot of people say ideas are a dime a dozen. I don't quite agree with that. Some ideas are just freakin' brilliant and are totally worth their proverbial weight in gold. But most? It's about the execution.

To kind of illustrate what I mean, I have this video of total win by a group called the Axis of Awesome. This video is a bunch (I believe thirty-six?? Read that somewhere) of songs that can all be sung to the same four chord set. It is fascinating. He just plays the same four chords on the keyboard and keeps singing all these songs! Totally different songs. As different as the examples I've sited above (moreso in a lot of cases!!) but they all can be sung to the same accompaniment. (Language warning: there is some language in the middle of this number--you've been warned.:D)

This really can be applied to idea. They say there is nothing new under the sun. Chances are you fall under one of those "nothing new" categories.

And that's okay! That doesn't mean you can't make it your own! That you can't add remarkable characters and surprising twists and inimatable plot elements! Every idea can be done a different way. A better way, even.

This isn't to say that you can write your novel about Larry Blotter who goes to a sorcery school and makes friends with Hepsabah and Raul. That's not going to fly.

I'm not saying copy. Please, please, please, don't copy!! But of you are in the process of writing the story you love and you discover that some big-wig author wrote a story with a similar plot? It's probably very different from yours. Don't stop working on your story just because of that. There are too many books coming out every year for yours to truly be the only book like it. If you start trying to do that, you are never going to reach more than the halfway point on your WIP. (I know I wouldn't.)

Now, do pay attention. For example, I had Laurel and David meet in Biology class because they were sophomores, and I love Biology! But if I had thought about that famous scene in Twilight, I probably would have changed that particular class to something else. in fact, I have sometimes wondered how cool it would have been if they had met in music class. Wouldn't have changed the story a lot, and I would have avoided a lot of Twi-comparisons.

Did I copy her? Contrary to what some people think, no.:D Should I have thought about that and changed it for the sake of the market? Yeah, probably. But regardless, it's okay.

Do your thing. Do it your way. And I think you'll find that you really do have something unique and original.

As long as you're not writing about Belinda and Edwin who are fighting for their doomed love. Stay away from that one.:D



Crystal Cook said...

First of all fan art! Beautiful! Second, I love your blog and Wings and am dying for Spells :)
Third, I so needed to hear this right now, thank you so much for the encouragement. I know it wasn't meant for me specifically, because you have no idea who I am, but it encouraged me to keep writing. The story of how you got published is inspirational, thanks so much!

Melanie said...

How far you have come! I started following your blog right before your book was released, but this is the first time I am commenting on your blog (I think... am pretty sure...) When I found your blog, I went all the way to the first post and started reading from there. I still remember the posts where you were counting the queries you had on submission and just waiting to hear back. And now you are getting loads of fan mail and fan art!

You are truly an inspiration, which is why I wanted to pass on the Sunshine Award to you! If you want to read about it, please go to my latest post under the label "Blogs Me Likey".

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I LOVE the 2nd one :)

Anonymous said...

The fan art is incredible! And I love the encouragement you are giving to so many with your blog. By the way, that band is an Australian Comedy trio and they are extremely clever and funny! I guess that's why they had so many Australian artists on that video!

Kristen said...

It freaks me out how helpful this post was right now. I just found something kind of similar to my WIP and felt like I had to change my story. So, 200 pages out the window and alot of pulled hair later, I am finding that I really miss my old story. Thanks for the advice!

Chelsea said...

Crap, there goes my almost-completed manuscript of Sharry Blotter and the Professor's Scorn.

Kenny said...

You forgot Girls--that's the 2005-2007 comic-book miniseries with the rural town trapped under a mysterious impenetrable dome. I always just assumed Stephen King and Michael Grant were just ripping off the Luna brothers.

Only, you know, not. d^_^b

But it does add further credence to my theory that comic books lead literary trends by a couple years.

Kenny said...

Oh! Oh! And also Simpsons: The Movie.

Anonymous said...

Freaking A! That video is fantastic. Ha- I'm a Birdplane.

And hey--when are we going to see an official movie poster for Wings? That would be brilliant.

Lastly- Thanks for spreading these good words around. I think too many people worry about this, and about whether someone is going to 'steal' their great idea and run off with it. Better to focus on making my own story awesome instead of worrying about whether someone else is writing a story about XYZ. What- didn't expect me to blurt out my fascinating premise, did you?

tomdg said...

I heard a short story on the BBC recently called "Moss Witch" which reminded me a bit of Wings (except the story was different and a bunch of other stuff). Of course Wings came first :)

And you make a great point. Sometimes great stories come from someone deliberately taking another story and retelling it (I'm thinking Clueless and West Side Story here ... ok, so I should read more ...) There's a theory that there are only so many stories out there to tell, and it's interesting to see different people's takes on the same story.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's possible to hear this reassurance too often! (Especially when it's relayed so delightfully.) The comparison game can be incredibly disheartening, so it's always nice to be reminded that a writer's primary focus needs to be his or her own writing! It's the love of a story--and the unshakable drive to share it--that makes for beautiful work.

And speaking of beautiful work, that art is lovely!

moonrat said...

great post. i think the video illustrates your point remarkably.

although the Rally Monkey, not really caring about anything to do with writing, just thought the video was funny. we must forgive him.

K. M. Smith said...

Thanks for the much needed reminder to concentrate on making the work good rather than worrying over originality. Who thinks Twilight is an original story idea? Give me a break. Joss Whedon did the whole vampire-boyfriend, want-to-kill-you/love-you plotline with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which wasn't original in the first place but, most certainly, more interesting and better executed.

Red Boot Pearl said...

Great post, we all get a little paranoid about our writing "babies", and just need to realize that even if they are similar to another "baby", they'll grown up to be their own person.

Rachel said...

I'm going to go figure out what those chords are. Then I'll never have to stress about my lack of piano skills again!

Mandy Muse said...

This happens in movies/tv/theatre all the time. It's how you tell it, not the tale.

Romeo and Juliet
West Side Story

Near Dark
Lost Boys

I Am A Camera
Cabaret (70's)
Cabaret (90's)

A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Kevin Kline)
The Donkey Show

It can actually be very fun to take the bare bones of a plot that's been done - or is a classic - and write your own story.

Amber Lynae said...

I love this. It is true that one idea can stem into so many different creations.

And I love all of your covers and fan art. It is just amazing.

Jessie said...

Sweet art! If I were you I would blow that up and frame it over my bed to remind myself how cool I am!:) Btw I just became a follower...I meant to do that a long time ago. I adore your blog. I look forward to every post. I love how you seem to answer so many questions and concerns that an aspiring author gathers along the way. If I ever get published you are definitely going in the acknowledgments!:)

Ebony McKenna. said...

Oh my gosh, that music clip is brilliant.

I came across your blog from Moonrat. I agree completely - it's not the idea, it's what you do with it. I just wish the people trying to sue JK Rowling could accept that too.

I'm sure someone else in the world has written a book about a girl who falls for a talking ferret. But I bet they're completely different books.

zz said...

That video is very clever :) Great advice, don't stress if it's been done before, just make it special, interesting - I guess make it your own!

Roxy Harte said...

Loved the video and great blog:)

David L. McAfee said...

Hey...I was gonna post about this exact same thing. You stole my idea! ;)

Lorri Amsden said...

Hi Aprilynn,

Would you be interested in doing an event at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Az
480 947 2974 for your upcoming book Spells May 4, 2010?
I'm Booking May now.

Orchid said...

That was some amazing fan art. :)

Ella Press said...

Love the movie poster for Wings! So beautifully done!

And you're right, you shouldn't stop writing just because someone else is writing something similar.

I'm now following you!

austenfan said...

The fan art looks super cute! Especially the one by Katie. :)

Aye.Me? said...

The fan art is beautiful!!! I love all the different covers of your books. :)

I find that people compare books with others way too much. Sure the similarities may be there, but you'll only notice them if you're looking for them.

Anonymous said...

Ohh, that fan art is Fantastic! I especially like the second one :)

Zombie Girrrl said...

Wow-wow-wow! That fan art was fantastic!!! Better than some real book covers I've seen, that's for certain.
You made a great point with your illustration of similar plots in dynamically different books!

fredamans said...

Great blog! I now follow you!

LucĂ­a said...

It's beautiful, I love all colors. I haven't read Wings yet, but it looks great. Congratulations for your blog! I'm following you now

Larissa said...

Great post!

In the spirit of this post, I posted a link to it and CKHB's blog where I first saw it on my blog. :)

I added another video, though. It's the Pachelbel Rant, which is very similar to the video you posted:

throuthehaze said...

Very pretty :)

upt0wngurl said...

That video was so cool! Thanks for sharing! I am going to show that to my other friend who is an English major too!

WritingNut said...

Hi Aprilynne - I linked to your blog from Moonrat and found this post very helpful. The video really helped to drive the point home too.

You're giving hope to so many of us who are worried about this very thing. I'm on the verge of restarting my current manuscript because one of my main problems is that I don't feel that it's fresh enough. But you are correct - that's not all it needs to be - it really comes down to what you do with it.

Thank you for the reminder, and I absolutely love the cover art!

Aspen said...

Wow - it's like you read my mind. I really needed that post!

I was starting to think that 50% of my book would sound like a mish-mash of just about every YA book out there.

Jen said...

Love your blog! Fan art is beautiful!!! I am so happy to have found your blog!

JKB said...

I'm sorry.

I had to give you an award. Because I love both you and your blog. :0))) Hope you don't mind!

Wendy Toliver said...

LOVE the fan art! And great post on ideas. I loved the video too. So interesting!

Heather said...

I love the fanart, and the pictures of all your covers! They're so pretty!

Lenore said...

Apparently I am a fan of those 4 chords, because I was like - yeah I LOVE this song...on the majority of them anyway.

Precious said...

Wow! The first mosaic-like one is awesome! That takes so much time to do! :)
That was encouraging Aprilynne!

Anonymous said...

Awesome fan art! Great advice about making your story your own, I often worry about writing a similar premise that another writer may have. I really just need to concentrate on my own writing.

Elie said...

Great video. And the collage is great. That would look great on a wall.

Sharli said...

Wow! They're both great :) but Katie's is sooo pretty it makes me almost squeel. Well the fact that I can't wait to read Wings kind of helps there too :P

Marianna said...

Some fan art is absolutely fantastic, those people should be given jobs and paid handsomely.

Emma said...

That was an entertaining post! :) and that fan art was just gorgeous!!! Thanks for all the writing advice too! I'm sure I'll use that in the future

Diana Dang said...

Lovely fan art covers!

Stella said...

I stumbled upon your blog by chance, but I'm sure I will come back often!

Gorgeous fan arts!! A feast for the eyes, I especially can't take my eyes off Katie's, beautiful!

YA Vampire Books said...

Wow! All your covers are absolutely beautifuL!

jmspettoli said...

First of all: awesome fanart!
Second: In my Literary theory class we discussed Vladimir Propp who compiled a list of 31 "fuctions" (different plot points) that according to him any plot of any tale at least contains most if not all functions in a fixed order. Some of these functions include things like 1. One of the members of a family absents himself from home. 11. The hero leaves home. 31. The hero is married and ascends the throne.). Pretty crazy stuff!! So i don't know if this is really relevant but this just makes me think of what it means to truly have an original story or even if there is such a thing.

Bunny B said...

That fan art is lovely! Didn't realize your books have lots of pretty covers before! :)

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Wow, the fan art is awesome!!! Love it! I can't wait to read this book!! Congrats on all of your success with the book :)

Aik said...

I love the fan art! How gorgeous!

lale said...

I just read 'Wings', enjoyed it and reviewed it here: http://thelifeoflale.blogspot.com/2010/03/wings-aprilynne-pike.html

I referenced this post! ;)

GABY said...

Wow, beautiful fanart and poster!! The poster is my favorite! Excellent for WINGS

Tina said...

Wooow! The wings's cover is amazing!

Karolyn said...

I think when worrying that your story is the same as someone elses - remember, when your friend's parents split up because the Dad left the Mum (sorry, Mom) for a younger woman - this was not the first time in the history of the world that this happened. The same situations happen over and over in real life - so they can reoccur in fiction as well.

Although I did have to change the names of my characters Edwin and Isabel who, by the way, were around LONG before Edward and Bella. But who would believe that?

vvb32 reads said...

i should have sent you this earlier. some fan art from me. enjoy.

Andrea Coleman said...

Yes! That happened to me. The premise of the soon-to-be-published book so closely resembled the one I was working on I had to take five full minutes to marvel at the unlikelihood of it all before I took a dive into weeping hysterically. Even the same title. It was uncomfortably odd.

As any sane author would, I went digging for info about the author. She sounds way more interesting than me. At the top of her blog was a little box entitled "Favorite Author Quote." And within that little box was the following, "If you don’t commit and write the story already, your characters will leave you for another writer."

No. Seriously.

I actually looked over my shoulder.

Then I buckled down, pulled out another MS I was working on and finished it in under a week. So, if it's published, I might just thank her in the acknowledgments.

It seems the world of being an author is usually more unbelievable than any we could create, I think.

Anonymous said...


Turkish versions.Still reading spells,I really love it.Good work dear aprilynne pike lady.