While watching TV this week, I was shocked at a promo for a new show. Their hook was identical to a book series I’ve been contemplating. Though I’m sure the show will go in a different direction than what I planned for my books, the premise is the same. The similarity is so great that it will look like I’m copying them if I move forward.
This, of course, isn’t the first time two people have come up with the same idea. As writers, we need to expect this will happen on occasion. When it does, we have four options:
Disregard Our Idea: We can acknowledge that our window of opportunity closed. The timing was off, and there is no going back. We forget our idea and go on to something else.
Proceed Anyway: We dismiss the similarities and move forward. We can ignore the competing work and not be influenced by it, or we can study it to introduce as many different elements as possible.
Change Our Concept: Can we sufficiently tweak our idea so it no longer looks the same? Can we add a new twist, alter the premise, or rework the storyline? However, if we choose this option, it’s essential that it doesn’t look like that’s what we did.
Put it On Hold: We can shelve our idea, waiting for a more opportune time to pursue it. If the competing work tops the bestsellers lists or has staying power, we may need to wait longer. But in most cases time will put enough distance between the two works that the similarities no longer matter.
Is there a fifth option? Has someone else ever had the same idea as you? If so, what did you do?
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!