Your characters chose you to tell their stories. Do them justice and do not give up.
In a moment when I thought I might abandon the world that had been building in my mind for a number of years, these words came to me. I do not know if these words have already been spoken or written or thought by others on this path, but they were a reminder of the silent oath we take as writers…to share the secrets whispered in our ears by characters that visit us and only us.
Are you afraid of wandering into a bookshop and finding a book that has the same premise as the one you have spent years working on?
Pre-lockdown I came across two such books.
Several months earlier, I had come across another.
And years before that I had been working on an idea that had been brewing since the age of fourteen, when a television series was released that held the same premise. It became quite popular. My draft of this particular idea now sits in a cupboard collecting dust.
We want to be the first. We do not want to be accused of ‘copying’ or ‘stealing’ or ‘riding the wave’ or ‘hanging on to somebody else’s coattails’. This never-ending fear-cycle takes us away from our creations.
One of my favourite authors growing up was L.J Smith. The Night World was my favourite series of hers, though she is probably best known now for The Vampire Diaries. When I had finished reading the books of hers that I could get my hands on, I was desperate for more of the same. I don’t know whether books like hers were just not available at the time or whether they were not as easily accessible, but I struggled to find the kinds of stories I craved that were also suitable for my age (I was around eleven or twelve years old at this time).
Today, at the click of a button, I can find hundreds if not thousands of books similar to L.J Smith’s.
No two books will be completely the same. They might be variations of the same premise or theme, but never exactly the same story or world or characters. Nobody else knows the characters that you know. Those characters came to you, they chose you.
At this moment, someone, somewhere, is waiting…waiting for your story.
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