Friday, January 31, 2014

I Think I Just Read That…

This month, I’ve been playing around with my new e-reader, and though I still miss the feeling of turning pages and closing the book when I finish. 

Despite that, I am adjusting, and I’m loving the fact that there are so many books at my fingertips!  Just this month, I’ve read three novels, one anthology and novellas.  And it’s even better because I can finally support all of my writing buddies who are publishing as well.

What’s interesting is that as I’m reading (especially as quickly as I’m reading), I’m starting to notice a trend.  Common themes between stories that makes me compare them. 

A few months ago, my sister lent me a book, one she thought I would really enjoy.  I sat down, started reading and my first thought was: 

Uh oh.  I’ve already read this book. 

I hadn’t actually read it, but I’d read one remarkably similar.  Two siblings with unknown powers that made them gods, they’re separated from their family, guided by mentors who know the magic that they possess.  It probably sounds familiar to you too, though I’m probably not talking about the book that you’re thinking of. 
What surprised and delighted me about the novel that my sister gave me was that it was easier to jump into the world and enjoy the ride with the main characters.  In the book I’d read before, I’d actually stopped reading halfway through because I couldn’t stand the main characters.  (Something that very rarely happens to me as a reader.  I think there are only 5-6 books that I’ve ever not finished.) 

Both books started out with the same idea, the same blurb could be used for them.  But they went in two completely separate directions.  In writing, just like anything else when creating occurs, there is the chance of writing a story remarkably similar to someone else.  Even if they’re across the world.  Does that mean that we should give up?  Stop writing because someone else might be writing it?

No.  But it does give us the challenge to make our story ours.  What is it about your story (or my story) that stands out?  What’s the theme, who are the characters?  Two of the novels I read this month include children who are separated by special abilities by color.  Almost identical in that idea and aspect.  It’s a way of categorizing, of separating them.  And it’s something I’ve used in novels of my own.  Yet when comparing the two stories, they are remarkably different.  Enough so that I was able to enjoy both without worrying about whether I’ve “already read it.”

Create something that’s yours.  Find what makes your work unique.  Because chances are, that’s what your reader is going to remember.