Monday, July 11, 2011

The Same Sort

There are many things that may seem the same at first glance, but when you take a closer look, they end up being completely different.

For example, a long time ago I used think these two were the same guy:

Probably because back in the day they looked like this:


Now I have a problem telling these two apart:

Writers tend to obsess over similarities in story lines when working on a new idea, even to the point of googling ‘high school zombies eat principal and run off with head cheerleader’ to see if it’s been done before.

It has.

Minor elements can be the same but when the entire story is told they hardly matter.  The differences in voice, and pacing alone can change a story so utterly that it makes comparisons a waste of time.

Like these two books, both about dystopian societies ran by a shadow government that controls the citizens for their own good.


They appear the same but I assure you…they are not.

Write the story banging around in your head, with your own voice and style, and don’t worry about the similarities. You can’t go wrong…unless it’s about an orphaned boy wizard who attends a magical school and kicks ass on a broomstick.
Then you may need to worry.


  1. Excellent point. There are so many dystopian stories out right now, but it's almost impossible for any of them to be the same. Everyone brings their own perspective and experiences to the writing. We discussed this before, but even people working off the same mythology will come up with different stories. Same concept, different execution.

    Also, I get those two blond guys mixed up all the time too. :)

  2. Great post, Marsha! It's so true, lots of things can be similar. Really, voice can totally make a story. Every story is unique. :)

  3. What!? Is someone trying to use my boy wizard story? The son of a bitch. Luckily, with my genius, I added in owl familiars that carry messages. Booyah. Solid gold, I tell you. Solid gold.

  4. Interesting that you should post this. I ALWAYS got (and still do) Hoffman and DeNiro mixed up.

    I LOVE the way you tied this in to writing.

  5. Dystopian is still VERY new to me. Being a Brit it wasn't something I'd heard of until I started clicking my way through the US blogosphere. I've gt a small inkling of what it's all about, and no doubt it's a cool spin. But like you say, everyone has their own unique voice. Also, there is the saying that no story is new, so it's all about the writer putting their own spin on their story to make it new and fresh.

  6. Great post, and so very true! I made those very mistakes you mentioned when I first started writing (googling every idea I had) and then realized pretty fast that I was never going to get anywhere if I didn't start somewhere.

  7. I ALWAYS get Hoffman and Pacino mixed up. They're practically twins, those two.

    And, uh, Scott Pilgrim and the inventor of Facebook aren't the same guy? Good to know. :/

  8. I get Amy Adams and that woman in "Confessions of a Shopaholic" mixed up, even though they look the same side by side. Interesting how lookalike actors come along around the same time. I wonder if it's intentional?

    I just hope when I get published someday, if my book is identical to another one, the other one is really successful and people buy my book mistaking it for the other and end up liking mine better! Or not...I'd rather mine stand completely alone.


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.