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Living Loz
I am wearing my pouting face... 
12th-Apr-2010 07:00 am
Loz Cola
Quick question guys.

What do you do if you’ve been working for a few months on a fic with a certain conceit you haven’t seen before, (but may very well already exist), and as you’re working on it someone else writes a new fic with that very conceit?

See, I? Automatically feel like a big fat failure who can’t now finish the fic, even though I loved the idea.

Am I being crazy?

I’ve always been one who says that originality in fiction is overrated. I say that, but don’t always mean it. Not when it comes to my own writing.

I hate it when this happens.
11th-Apr-2010 09:46 pm (UTC)

My question would be did they handle the conceit in the way you planned on handling it?

Nine times out of ten it's how you write a story that counts, a lot more than the conceit you use.

But what do I know, 90% of the fan fiction I write is so firmly in the "box o' plots" that get played with all the time it doesn't matter and the other 10% is too strange for anyone else to even want to play with. *g*
11th-Apr-2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
There was enough of an overlap that it makes me feel hinky. Writer's block, use of passages from the writer's own writing, same pairing.

My idea was first time and theirs was established relationship, but there was still that basic conceit at the heart. And as I said, this may already even have been done, I'd be surprised if it hadn't, but now it's like my fic will look like the bastard step-cousin of this other fic. But I came up with it on my own :(

(I am feeling sensitive about this anyway, 'cause I recently found out that I echoed a writer I love. I swear I hadn't read this particular fic of theirs, yet I used two similar nicknames in my fic, and was like, how? How did I do this? How is this possible? I don't mind being referential when it's intentional, but when I'm unaware I've nicked something, I feel weird and creepy.)
11th-Apr-2010 10:12 pm (UTC)

If it really is something you haven't seen done before, not just a variant on a standard trope, then I can certainly understand your hesitancy.

As you say, it's bad enough when you run across an older story that you hadn't even read and realize that you've unwittingly echoed it. It's happened to me a couple of times now as it's one of the very great drawbacks of playing in fandoms with decades worth of fan fiction.
11th-Apr-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Sometimes, the fannish hive mind sucks and blows. :(
(Deleted comment)
12th-Apr-2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
♥ Thanks so much for this comment.
12th-Apr-2010 06:05 am (UTC)
Oh, honey. ILU.

1. No feeling sensitive over the echoing thing, you know it was entirely unwitting.

2. You should still write it. You know you'll do a better job and so do I. You should maybe wait a little while to post it, but it's not the first fic which has played at least loosely with that idea and it won't be the last. Yours, however, will be well-characterised and interesting and well-written. That's pretty rare in that arena. Go for it. I really, REALLY want to read it. (Haven't had time to see the other one yet, but I always want fic from you, no matter what.)
12th-Apr-2010 11:18 am (UTC)

1. I am silly, I know. It still makes me go 'bwuh' though.

2. My version is different, written with a different perspective and voice, etc, but I'm still sort of 'awwww'. :D
11th-Apr-2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
You're not being crazy, but you should finish the fic anyway. Similar ideas pop up all the time -- it's the treatment that makes them good/bad.
11th-Apr-2010 10:02 pm (UTC)

I know this, I know I do, I just --- bah.

I don't mind it so much when it's a universal plot/trope, like using 'amnesia', or 'trapped together', or 'forced to share a motel room', but when it's something that wasn't a great stretch of imagination but a leetle bit different, I do feel awful.
12th-Apr-2010 01:02 am (UTC)
It really sucks when that happens, but you have a loyal fanbase and people are interesting in *your* take of an idea. Believe me, other writers will sympathise with you if you explain your plight. It's not your problem great minds think alike. I understand the guilt you feel but it really is misplaced. Finish the fic, don't give in. You have every right to write as the next person.
12th-Apr-2010 11:19 am (UTC)
I don't have any fanbase for this fandom. ;)

Thank you! ♥
12th-Apr-2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
You have me. I'll give anything a go. Which fandom is it, if you don't mind me asking? Educate me, please!
12th-Apr-2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
NCIS! I've only written one fic for it before and it was written out of chronology, because I am mad.
12th-Apr-2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
Loz! You're the one who got me into NCIS to begin with. Now I've written 3 fics, have a whole universe in my head and have joined ncis_temptation, ncis_puppylove and kissmeprobie. Now I REALLY want to read it! And your previous fic, if I ever feel smart enough. Trust me, you write it and it will be read.
12th-Apr-2010 05:16 am (UTC)
Ooh, I hate when that happens too. I had it once when "someone else" was actually TPTB for the show, and was torn between a "great minds think alike" mindset and anxiety over the flaws within my own fic that would come out in the bound-to-come comparison. I eventually went with the anxiety side, and never finished the fic - so no, I don't think you're being crazy.

That said, if you were really enjoying writing this fic, and liked the way you were writing it, I still think you should go with it. Even if you never want to show it to anybody because of the similarities. You'll have written it, and sometimes that's enough.
12th-Apr-2010 11:21 am (UTC)
I almost had it happen with Psych, once, but the episode went in a different direction.

And that story is still lurking on my hard drive, 15% written. :/
12th-Apr-2010 06:59 am (UTC)
It could be worse. I wrote a spec script for a show, sent it to LA and three weeks later turned on the TV to a half dozen scenes that could have been pulled from my script except of course the episode was filmed months earlier.

Go ahead and write. Write it better. Write it the way you like. Make it your story and your idea. Some one else will probubly write it again after you. That's just sort of the way the great fandom unconscience works. Seriously, just take a deep breath and go for it.
12th-Apr-2010 11:22 am (UTC)
Oh no!

That makes me unbearably sad. I'm freaking out over fan fiction, let alone original.

Thanks :)

Edited at 2010-04-12 11:22 am (UTC)
12th-Apr-2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
I don't know. It gives me hope that I might make the big time one day.
12th-Apr-2010 11:23 am (UTC)
I know, I know. I've got several unfinished fics which have been beaten to an idea by someone else. It's sort of a cross between "the writer will think I've copied them and it'll all get nasty" and "I wanted to be all original and now I'm just being derivative, wah!"...

Of course, it's ridiculous. But you can't help what you feel, just how you react to it. I will dust my WIPs off at some point. Honestly.


Think about it from the other point of view - you've just posted up a fic and someone comments "Ooh, I was thinking about writing that exact thing. Yours is so well done, I think I won't bother now. It won't be as good."

What's your reaction to that? Yeah.
12th-Apr-2010 11:29 am (UTC)
It's frustrating, yeah? It's happened to me only four times, but each time it's stung, oh how it's stung. Especially because it's often with the ideas I have a deep, deep love for but lack of confidence in how to attack it, so I start, and mull, and have it linger around for a while, while I try to build more courage to finish.

What's your reaction to that?

Do you want me to be horribly honest? It depends on the writer.

Most of the time, I'd be genuinely "oh no! write it, there's no such thing as originality in fiction and you're going to write a very different story from the one I wrote, different writers have different perspectives", but I can think of at least two writers where I wouldn't have a clue what to say if I decided not to lie. I think I'd still genuinely advocate they write it, but choose not to read it. I am a horrible person :D
12th-Apr-2010 12:16 pm (UTC)
It's incredibly frustrating, yes. And every time it happens, I just get warier about writing, "just in case", which is a terrible place to be in, to be honest. But it takes a lot of courage, I think, to say "well, never mind" and write anyway.

Though, honestly, do you think folk really want to know where the Daleks really come from...

Yeah, I know what you mean about it depends on the writer. I'm a horrible person too... However, there is more than one or two in the LoM fandom where my reaction is more "I really want to see that!" - I did it to space_oddity_75 with the nuclear war fic, and I'm *still* desperate to read her take on the same thing!
12th-Apr-2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
Go ahead and write it, and if you must, post a footnote that you were in process when you ran across the other story.

Giving a bunch of writers the same prompt and seeing what they come up with is a classic writing exercise. No two writers will produce the same story. In your boots, I'd have stopped reading the doppelganger as soon as I realized what it was - but OTOH, you can steer away from too close a resemblance.

I just found out someone is at publishing-point with a book that has the same title as my WIP, a title it's had for about a year.

Just be glad you weren't writing a dissertation!
14th-Apr-2010 01:35 am (UTC)
In your boots, I'd have stopped reading the doppelganger as soon as I realized what it was

Actually, I could tell what it was from the summary. I purposefully tortured myself further. Heh.

♥ Thank you!
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