My Brilliant Idea

Have you ever come up with an idea you thought was brilliant, only to find that someone did it first?

As most of you know, I’ve been working on a new book for my Media Bistro class. The story is about a 12-yo boy who gets struck by lightning and then can hear people’s thoughts. His father is a detective and they end up tracking down this crime.

So last week I picked up a pile of books from my favorite sixth-grade reader. She’s very into paranormal and insisted that I needed to read these titles. I pulled out Evermore by Alyson Noël and read it over the weekend.

Pissed. Me. Off.

Let’s face it. Hearing the thoughts of every single person around you could be more of a curse than a blessing. One of the things I have my MC do when he doesn’t want to hear people’s thoughts is crank the iPod. And what do you think Alyson Noël had her MC do when she doesn’t want to hear people’s thoughts? Yeah. Crank the iPod.

It would be bad enough if this was a self-published title that maybe 200 people read. But no. This is a #1 NY Times Bestseller. And she stole my idea.

Okay, she didn’t steal my idea. And I didn’t steal it from her either. She just got there first. Which makes me want to cry.

Fortunately, my more rational side realizes that it’s also an opportunity. Obviously the iPod thing was too easy. So now I have to dig deeper, be more creative, find something that makes just as much sense but hasn’t already been done. It’s a challenge. I think I’ll be up for it.


33 thoughts on “My Brilliant Idea

  1. I feel your pain. I think we've all had those moments where something seems so similar and you want to scream. I have my own nemesis book too 🙂

    But you're completely right that this is an opportunity to dig deeper and be even better!

  2. Kate over at Book Aunt posted about this similar phenomenon over the weekend…I think it happens to every writer. Sure as heck happens to me!

    Way more often than I would like.

    But keep following your own story. There's a reason it wants to be told.

    (And I don't think that many 12 year old boys would read Evermore…just saying)


  3. MeganRebekah: Crazy how our independent thoughts can be so similar, huh?

    Shelley: You're right, 12yo boys probably won't read Evermore, but the girls often read both “girl” books and “boy” books so it still bites 😦

    Corey: Ha! No, her's was brought on by how she was saved from a near death experience in a car accident. Thank goodness the mind reading and the iPod were the only similarity.

  4. I hate to be the bearer of bad news…. but Mel Gibson was struck by lightning in What Women Want and then was able to hear women's thoughts…


    But yes – this does happen to everyone 😦

  5. Oh, I'm so sorry! When I first met one of my critique partners, we were not only both writing mysteries, we both had the same (not standard) murder weapon. Sigh. You're right, though. Your story is NOT her story, and as much as you loved the IPOD idea (and I do, too), it can go and you can come up with something new,different, and probably more particular to YOUR hero. Keep pushing. Remember how long the pub cycle takes. Sad, but here, the good side–her book will be NOT NEW when yours comes out. 🙂

  6. OH, I so relate. And judging from the comments here, so can may other writers.

    The ideas may be similar but the execution is all your own, so go, write YOUR story.

    (One of my critique members is also writing a story about someone being able to hear other people's thoughts…”

  7. Yeah, I've had a a couple great ideas – only to see them turn up in another book.

    Take it as a challenge! Find something besides an iPod. And as suggested above, Evermore is more for girls. Write your story for boys. There's not a lot of competition in the 9-12 year old range.

  8. It's a little discouraging to find a book with the same idea. But someone hearing others' thoughts isn't new. So just find the right voice, the right twist, make it different and it won't matter!

  9. I'm with you. It's tough when you're thinking, man, this is the best idea EVER, and then you read something and you're like … eww! they stole my idea!!!

    But just think of what a great opportunity this is going to be! Now you have your own mystery to solve!

  10. Putting the middle-grade boy spin on it will give you an edge. And frankly, having a best-seller with a similar concept will help, not hurt you. It's having no comparison titles that makes books extra-hard to market.

    Praying hard you find the perfect non-iPod solution to make your spin uniquely yours.

  11. Your brilliant idea can still be yours. It's a matter of having a different voice and spin on the story.

    I had the same thing happen to me recently. When I examined the similarities I thought I saw, I discovered there was indeed a world of different between my story and another. (Hugs)Indigo

  12. I love your outlook on this. If we're going to be serious, dedicated writers and produce a good amount of books, this is bound to happen. It's great that you're looking at the bright side. Take an already used idea and twist it to fit your own style–to be more original. We're all going to have to do it at one point or another so we might as well access our creativity now.

  13. Something similar happened to me; I had an idea for a character to be a healer, and the way she heals is to drag the injury out of the other person and into herself, but thoughts and memories had a tendency to get 'transferred' as well. Someone else had the idea about healing too, but thankfully not the emotional side of things.

  14. ohhhh! I've had similar things happen to me too. Very frustrating. But I took the same attitude. At least we're both readers so we can be aware of whats out there and what we need to make our stuff stick out.

    Good luck! and ((((hugs))))

  15. Oh, man! I've so felt this before! Felt it deep in my soul and my fingers are panicking and my breath can't expand in my chest enough.

    But you're brilliant. You'll find a way to make this idea yours yours yours!!

  16. Ha! This post is very….original! Honestly, I think the most amazing thing about writing is the random similarities in books. We had the same thing happen to us with our Europe book. A few random similarities to 13 Little Blue Envelopes and we didn't read the book until AFTER we were completely finished with the manuscript and had sent it to our agent. SO FRUSTRATING.

  17. Dig deeper. That's such good advice and a great attitude. I hate it too when you start researching an idea and find out someone got there first.

    Dig deeper. I'll remember that too.

  18. Oh, dear, I have a friend who did this in her book, too. But not because of thoughts, for another reason. Still, there's an iPod involved. Sigh. Sometimes it doesn't matter. Mostly it's just the story that matters and those little details just get lost. iPods exist. Radio exists. TV exists. If the iPod works, it works. 🙂

  19. Oh, man! But you are right, you can take this to make your story better! I named my main character of my chapter book after Gwen Stefani this past summer. Then I happened to watch Baby Mama with Tina Fey in October fast forward to ending and baby is named Stefani after Gwen! I yelled, “CRAP!” But then again,hopefully not many 8 yr olds saw that movie anyway…

  20. Happens all the time. And it sucks. I have this great middle-grade book about ghost hunters and my agent is having a heck of a time selling it. Publishers keep saying it's too similar to other books they have. I thought I was on the cutting edge…apparently everyone else thought of the idea the same time I did!

  21. You have to view it as an opportunity. The feeling sucks, but there really is a silver lining in everything.
    The more I read and have ideas and see ideas I realize there are almost no original ideas. And what does this do? It further confirms that it comes down to telling a great story.

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