Have you noticed that when you have a new book idea, one that you're thrilled about and feel is wholly original, that within a month of your sparkling idea, you hear about the same kind of premise twenty times over?
It's like a cosmic joke. The whole day late, dollar short thing.
Over the last couple of months I had this idea for a contemporary YA thriller involving a girl who comes to in a quarry with no recollection of who she is, how she got there or what happened. And then she learns that her best friend is also missing. When her friend's body is found and foul play is suspected, everyone including the main MC becomes a suspect. It was like a Pretty Little Liars meets Memento. I was really thrilled about this idea. And then... I see about a dozen or so recent sales along the same premise: Girl. No memory. Must figure out the truth. Definitely not the same thing I was thinking, but still, the same premise.
Then comes the question: Do you go ahead with planned novel or do you push it aside? Because if there has been 20 sales recently, that means there are about 5,000 of the same premise submission and then some. That's probably 10,000 authors who shared the same idea and premise without ever reading any of those other books because they aren't out yet.
All of this made me think of something else: How common ideas are. It's like the whole Twilight comparison craze in reviews. Girl meets boy, boy is kind of jerk at first for whatever supernatural reason, boy really loves girl though---Aha! Compare to Twilight. When, in reality, the book may be nothing like Twilight or the author may not even read the book ( I find that hard to believe, but there may be some authors out there that have been holding out-- I'm not just reading Hunger Games)
You can see this is other books. For example, every dystopian book is compared to The Hunger Games, when they are nothing alike. Every kickass female character is compared to Rose Hathaway or Kat from Hunger Games, every sensitive guy is compared to Sam, every love triangle is compared to Bella-Edward-Jacob, and the list can go on and on.
And the likelihood that the author even drew inspiration from these books are actually very slim. Writing a book usually takes years- from conception of idea to first draft, through revisions, through editing, from agent/direct submission, to publication date. They were probably writing the book when the *Next Big Thing* was coming out or may not even hit the shelves yet and gained any buzz.
I started writing Half-Blood in 2008. It's released in 2011 to give you any idea of how long it actually can take. At that time, I'd read Twilight and about a dozen historical romances and books on Greek Civilizations. Fun.
So writing is sometime is about being a head of the game, so to speak. That's why agents insist don't write to trends, write when you feel passionate about. But you won't always be ahead of the game. Sometimes you'll be in the middle of the pack or pulling up the rear.
And maybe you'll be the one that launches the *Next Big Thing* and then a slew of books will be compared to yours.
I'm hearing ghost stories, the Gothic scary kind, is gearing up to be big since they are "projecting" that dystopian is slowing down. Of course, paranormal romance is still as strong as ever but ideas have to be fresh and new. YA contemporary thriller is also something that people are looking for (alas, my sad fresh new idea)
So all of this has gotten me curious about what people are currently writing
In the comments, tell me what your WIP is about (genre, like vamps in high school) and what book/movie/tv show it could be compared to.
I'm finishing up the 3rd Half-Blood novel, then I'm writing a Paranormal Romance that can be compared to the Supernatural TV show.