So last night I was in my weekly writer chat. And in a slight lull in the conversation, I started gushing about how excited I was about my new project, about how I couldn't stop the ideas from coming to me, about how I had notes in my notebook, on my laptop, even in my phone because everywhere I went I was just getting smacked with scenes, dialogue, and whathaveyou.
Everyone said, "That's so great, Heather!" They know I am a freak of nature who likes first drafting more than revising, and since I am thisclose to finishing my current WIP, I am almost ready to start my next book.
Then someone in the group asked, ever-so-innocently, "What's your book about?" I told her, and she said,
"Oh. That sounds like a book SUPER-FAMOUS YA AUTHOR just sold. :("
And she was right. She pulled up the Publisher's Marketplace listing (of which she is a paid member and I only get the lame free emails) and, with the change of a minor detail, it was pretty much my book. The book I'd been sitting on and plotting, letting it simmer and researching for months.
So what's a girl to do? I had playlists started, scenes plotted, even the first 1,000 words written in a frenzy of inspiration I got a few months back. I felt pretty heartbroken.
But this, blog-readers, is why having a support system in place is awesome. Instead of letting me cry my sad tears, she immediately jumped into "Let's solve the problem" mode. Of course, the first thing she said was the writer's old favorite stand-by, "It's OK. Really, how many books with the same basic plot are out there? It's how you write the book, how you make it your own, that matters." She even brought up vampire boarding school novels and vamp romances, of which there are apx. 6 million.
Now, while I totally, 100% agree with this, I was being irrational. So I said, "That's normally true. But this is SUPER-FAMOUS AUTHOR, not no one's ever heard of them author. They're going to sell a MILLION COPIES and no one will buy my book!!!!" (Apparently I have never heard of Stephenie Meyer or any of the people who have managed to sell vampire romance books after her success. Then again, this isn't a genre, this is a pretty specific plot, so...)
So then we moved on to, "How can we salvage this plot?" We talked about new character motivations, other reasons the MC would behave that way, and in the end I have a NEW idea which has the opportunity for an AWESOME TWIST.
Am I still a little hurt over the loss of my original SNI? Yes. But I think this is the best way to deal. And I'm glad I found out now before I actually started writing.
The point is, when you find a book that is so similar to yours that it might as well BE yours, all hope is not lost. You can pick up the pieces. Think of a new plot twist, different motivations, or change a few key elements. Who knows? In the end, it might end up making your story even stronger.