I had an epiphany the other night. One of those light-bulb, head-smacking moments that seem so obvious, but for whatever reason, I was too blind to notice before now.
I was reading a novel and noticed similarities between the book I was reading and the book I am writing. Normally, this would discourage me. I have a couple of manuscripts in various draft stages. One is still a first draft, unfinished. One is a finished first draft that needs a complete transplant of a plot, characters, and setting to save it. One is an outline. I have learned many things from each one. One will never, ever, see the light of day. One I have figured out how to salvage and will go through it when I’m done with the current one. The outline, well, that’s up in the air.
With this current WIP, I’m thrilled. The finer nuances that go into weaving a coherent story are clicking into place. Small details that I was blocked to before, now make sense.
That novel that will never, ever see the light of day? When I was working on that one I read a book that had a few similar ideas. I cringed and put myself down – I was way out of my league.
I get it now. It’s not bad to see another book with similarities to your own, it’s encouraging. I had three main concerns while writing this novel:
1) I’ve told the whole story in 20,000 words.
2) I don’t think I can add another situation, that might be over the top.
3) What genre does my novel belong in mystery, suspense, thriller or possibly horror (of the non-creature-type – more like realistic horror)?
The novel I read alleviated all those fears. Yes, it has some similarities, but my novel is still quite different. So here’s why reading this book has given me confidence in my own novel.
1) It answered what genre my novel falls into Suspense. I know some people see genres right away, but I tend to over-think and before you know it, I have a reason why my novel can fit into every genre out there…except children’s books…I know it doesn’t fit there. Murder just doesn’t work in picture books.
2) There were many situations thrown in. Obstacles, twists, and turns, etc…. The author weaved them very well so even though they were close to falling into the “Oh please!” category, they didn’t. This was like my little “go-ahead and throw in that extra scenario, it’s okay” moment. Obviously, I have to weave it well enough that it doesn’t fall into the “Oh Please” area, but I’m retaining confidence that I can do that.
3) If this author cut all the extraneous material from this novel, he could have told the story in 20,000 words or so, too. But he weaved and added detail and imagery that made the book engrossing. And, this book is 512 pages long! Yet, it didn’t read like it was that long. Again, this is a best-selling author, so how I finesse my draft will tell if my story is good or not, but it gives me hope.
Obviously, it is all dependent on the story teller…me to make it work. But the book was just the encouragement I needed to keep going.
So, if you happen to read a book with similarities to the one you’re writing, take note. It may answer concerns you’ve had while wrestling with the piece.