October 07, 2010

When you think of something already thought of

I recently finished CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare.

In Clare's MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and INFERNAL DEVICES series, a treaty called the Accords is often mentioned. CLOCKWORK being the first of Clare's work that I had read, I was disappointed to learn of The Accords.

You see, my novel also features a peace treaty of sorts called the Accords.

Obviously, I didn't rip Ms. Clare off (I was inspired by the Camp David Accords, actually), but I wonder if her books being so popular means I need to rename my treaty? I'd prefer not to, but at the same time, I don't want readers unwittingly assuming I stole from one of their favorite authors.

I thought I'd throw this out there, since this is the second accidental similarity I have come across. You see, one of my betas pointed out that my novel and an already-published YA novel share a main character's nickname and last name. It's not like the character is Bella Swan, mind you, (I actually hadn't heard of the book until beta mentioned it) but still...

How do you handle accidental similarities between your WIP and an already-published novel? Do you change it? Bring it up with your agent (if you have one)? Leave it up to your (hopefully eventual) publisher to decide?

8 comments:

Jamie said...

The exact same thing happened to me with my MC's first name and the first name of the MC of a very popular series (not Bella!)...after much turmoil, I decided to keep it. IF I'm lucky enough to get published, then I'll worry about changing it if I'm told it needs to be.

Pam Harris said...

This is something that's bothered me, as well. However, mine has something more to do with similar premises. I wasn't going to change the whole plot of my book, and I figure there's room on the market for more than one book on certain topics. As far as names of characters or items in my stories, I'd change them if there was an uber-popular book with the same names. I'd whine about it, but change it nevertheless. :)

Rachel Bateman said...

I wouldn't worry about it at all, to be honest. A treaty called the Accords is something that is fairly common, and definitely not something Clare made up on her own. That's just what some treaties are called. Sure, there will be some readers who have never heard of the Camp David Accords (to use your reference) or any others, and will probably think of the Mortal Instruments, but I would leave it the way it is. If a publisher wants you to change it, you can worry about that when the time comes.

I have never written (or even planned) a book without later coming across something with similarities (one even has some similarities with The Mortal Instruments!). The thing is: there is a LOT of writing out there. We are bound to find similarities between our work and others, no matter how fresh and original our work is. If we take the time to worry and fret and change things every time we come across another book that has close to the same thing, we will never finish our books.

Try not to think about the other books when you are working on yours - just write (and now edit!) the book YOU want. Make it the best you can. If a lot of betas come back (or when the time comes, you agent and editor) saying something is too similar, go ahead and find a way to change it. Until then, don't worry about it at all.

Sarah Enni said...

I agree -- just a name similarity or something like The Accords is not big enough to be concerned. An entire plot or subplot would be a different story, possibly, but I agree with Rachel. With the number of books in the world, everything has been done before to some extent.

lizakane said...

Hi! I found your blog via Kayla Olson's blog...I'm so glad that someone else thinks of things like this too! And, don't worry: "Accords" is definitely a common use term, and nothing to be concerned over. :)
I wrote a post about stumbling upon and excerpt of Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hand and Teeth, and feeling discouraged because the first paragraph had the same "feel" and the same verbiage ("Guardians") as my WIP. Thankfully, I got over my dismay, and went back to the excerpt hours later to find that it took a different turn, but it was just funny to see how easily discouraged I was.
(I also found my MCs name was mentioned in another recent novel, but it was just in passing, but that also tripped me up *just a little bit*) ;)
Thanks for sharing, and Happy Writing to you!

Abby Stevens said...

Jamie - I think that's basically what I've decided to do, too (for both the Accords and the name).

Pam - I agree - there is definitely enough room in the market for stories with similar premises. If there wasn't, we wouldn't be inundated with all these paranormal romances, would we? ;D And you know, I think I'll whine too if I ever have to change it, although for now I think I've decided changing it will only come at the insistance of an agent or editor.

Rachel - I just wanted you to know that my husband complimented your comment. He always reads my comments, and he remarked how thorough and logical your comments are! And thank you for the thoughtful response - I am glad that so many people feel the way I do in my head. I was worried everyone would be like, "change it now!" :-O

Sarah - Absolutely. Isn't there a phrase that says something like, "Nothing's new under the sun, so find a fresh spin and you'll be fine." Something like that, anyway... lol

Liza - Hello! I'm so glad you dropped by! And yes, you are definitely not the only one! I think it's impossible not to share traits with popular books, and it's not always a bad thing. Happy writing to you, too!

Digital Kitsune said...

All that reading Abby. *tsk* *tsk* If you just don't read the other books, then all your thoughts are original. Problem solved. (^_^)

Abby Stevens said...

Once again, my nemesis comes up with the perfect solution! *slaps hand to forehead* I mustn't read, I mustn't read, I mustn't read!

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