So this is a thing that comes up frequently in a negative light among writers I’ve spoken to so I thought I’d start off with a common problem the majority of us will have shared at some point.
If you’re an aspiring writer, it’s because you love stories. Whatever form of media you prefer is irrelevant. Whether it’s books, graphic novels, TV shows, anime or film, you’re doing what you do because you’re seeking to become a member of that wonderful world of creators that have people who not only read their work, but they freakin’ love it!
I, for one would love nothing more than to see both positive and negative reviews popping up from respected websites and journalists even if I didn’t profit from it financially. The idea of just having a bunch of people enjoying something that’s mine is nothing short of incredible.
That being said, a lot of writers seem to suffer from the fear that something that they’ve written may still not be considered “original” or “unique” despite the effort and love that’s been put into it. We wouldn’t want to be creators if we weren’t influenced by others but we’re naturally inclined to try and step out from the shadows of those who inspire us. Even so, it can’t be denied that – consciously or subconsciously – our influences can sometimes be recognized clearly within our stories…and that can be concerning to some of us!
Let me ask you this: How many times have you pitched an idea for something you want to work on and it’s been compared to something you yourself have enjoyed in the past?
More importantly, how much does it suck for your confidence in that idea when that happens? Because I’ve had it in the past and it can feel horrible .
Because we don’t just want to create something that’s enjoyable to others. We want to create something that’s uniquely ours. We pride ourselves as writers and we want to pave our own success rather than leech from the success of another. We often pour a portion of ourselves into our stories, to have that piece of ourselves considered as someone else’s can be disheartening and damaging, especially when a story is still in the early stages of development.
As a result of that we judge ourselves and the output we create very harshly, sometimes to the point that we may completely scrap a project that originally made us more excited than anything we’d ever worked on before.
“I scrapped it because the premise sounded the same as something else…” is a line I’ve heard from several writers.
Now I want you to read that line a couple more times before moving on. I want you to really examine what it means, particularly the fact that it’s just the premise of the idea being questioned…
Isn’t that a little silly?
Even if it sounded EXACTLY like something else, this is a vague summary we’re talking about here.
We are discussing the foundations of a storyline here! How can anyone say what your final story will be like other than you based on the early pre-development pitch?
In terms of a novel, you could be talking about something that has the potential to be hundreds of chapters long! How can you relate that to something else when describing it in just a couple of quick sentences?
If we were to look at popular anime for example:
The Premise: Humanity have become the underdogs in a world dominated by a monster that opposes them.
So we have:
Attack On Titan – Humanity vs Titans
Black Bullet – Humanity vs Bug Like Monsters
Kabaneri Of The Iron Fortress – Humanity vs Zombies
Owari No Seraph – Humanity vs Vampires
The Premise: A dysfunctional family and the hilariously wacky events that happen in their lives.
So we have:
Rick And Morty
Everybody Loves Raymond
The Brady Bunch
There’s actually no point in me going on with this list. Google “sitcoms about” and it autofills “sitcoms about families”