Friday, May 25, 2012

Great Minds Think Alike: When Someone Else Has the Same Idea

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Ten years ago when I first became serious about writing novels for publication, learning how to come up with ideas was the first order of business. I’d dreamed of being a writer all my life, but when I sat down to write, I realized that turning my dream into a book started with an idea. 

I began a file and selected three of the best ideas--the ones that caught my attention. Then I narrowed it down to the one that I would research for turning into a novel. I’d found a newspaper article about a group of covert operatives who rescued those suffering in places like Sudan. I visited my local Christian bookstore to browse other novels and see what else would compare to mine.

When I pulled Jefferson Scott's (AKA Jeff Gerke)  Operation Firebrand  from the shelves and read the back cover copy, I knew that someone had beat me to the story.  I was devastated.

Just over ten years later on the publishing journey, I’ve learned that all authors suffer through discovering someone else has the same great idea. Either an editor already has a comparable proposal on their desk or there are several books out with similar concepts. Often it’s much more devastating to learn that someone else is further along in the process with a similar idea. Writers can lose their motivation to keep going.

Why does this happen? Seasoned writers understand there is nothing new under the sun and though story concepts may be similar, a writer brings his or her voice to the story and many other elements to create a completely different story.

We often credit Thomas Edison for inventing the light bulb, but did you know that Joseph Swan earned a British patent for his light bulb around the same time as Edison? Both of them developed their work from other scientist who’d experimented before them. 

If someone else has an idea like yours, consider yourself in good company. You’re on the right track, but maybe you should delve deeper to make your story unique.


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