Hello and welcome to Thursday’s Thoughts. I’m your hostess with the mostest, Gabrielle Evans, and today, we’re going to be talking about the dos and don’ts of “borrowing” ideas.
There is very little out there that hasn’t already been written. Vampires, werewolves, shifters, spaceships, mummies, knights, gods, and the Holy Grail—we’ve seen it all. If an author does come up with something original, you can rest assured that the market will become oversaturated with it within six months.
C’mon, I get it. We all find inspiration somewhere, and a lot of times, that’s in the pages of another author’s work. If you’re going to lift an idea from one of your fellow writers, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Hours upon days upon months have gone into building, sculpting, and cultivating the world created between the pages of a book. Don’t piss on that by changing 20% of the story, slapping a new title on it, and passing it off as yours.
Make it as original as you can. Give it a special twist, some unique rules, or an unexpected setting. If you drew inspiration from another novel, it was likely because while you were reading, you were thinking of ways you would have done it differently. We ALL do it.
However, there are just rules that are not meant to be crossed. 50 different authors can write vampire stories. 25 of those authors can write that vampires walk in the sun. Only 1 of those writers can say vampires walk in the sun, spit acid, and are allergic to grape juice. If you “borrow” too many details, people will notice.
Additionally, if you are having a private conversation with another author, and they tell you about this really amazing idea they have, it’s not okay to take it, polish it up like your Uncle Dick’s bald head, and present it as your own. There is a level of professional courtesy that needs to be maintained.
The mantra of “We All Share Ideas” only goes so far. Otherwise, everything starts looking a little like cat vomit sprinkled with glitter. Sure, it’s kind of pretty from a distance, but up close, it’s still cat vomit.
So, what’s the lesson here?
Don’t borrow too many details. Introduce unique elements to mold your idea into an original story. If you’re worried that your book is too much like so-and-so’s book, it probably is.
Make it yours.
Make it shine.
Don’t be sparkly cat vomit.