This post over on Sarah LaPolla's blog, Glass Cases, got me thinking. The post title?
You Are Not Original (and that's OK)
We all hope that the WIP is fresh. We want agents to sit up and think, "OMG! I've never seen this before." Except they won't.
Why? Because most plots have been done to a certain extent. Even Shakespeare got inspiration for Romeo & Juliet from The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 (who was rumoured to have got that idea from someone else).
See, even the master drew from literature around him.
Before we all run and cry, I'm going to say I get it. I do. I'm like every other writer out there. I eat my cookies hoping my WIP is something agents haven't read a variation of before. But to do that I have to put a different spin on it. Make it mine. How?
It could be setting. It could be a plot twist. it doesn't matter as long as it's something that sets it apart.
My music teacher once told me that there are only a certain number of notes you can use. Sooner or later a composer will repeat the melody or phrase of another composition. The thing that makes them different is what they do with it after.
So the next time you get an idea about two teenagers from different sides of the tracks who fall in love, but the odds are against them, don't worry. Don't worry that Romeo & Juliet, Twilight or Wuthering Heights did it before you. Do it, but make it yours.
If it's good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me.