One of the things that worries and frustrates me is when I come up with an idea, something I feel is totally original, and then discover that someone else has already put it out there. Right now I’m writing Urban Fantasy. I’m also a late in life Supernatural fan, only really starting to watch within the last year. After binge-watching close to five seasons, I’ve noticed a lot of things that I had written, long before I had started the misadventures of Dean and Sam, that there were a lot of similarities. I’ve been flustered trying to make some changes, not sweeping, but enough to hopefully stem potential accusations that I’ve been ripping off Supernatural. Enter South Park.
Simpsons Already Did It
I was rewatching an old episode( Oddly titled The Simpsons Already Did it) and the A Plot is Butters, AKA Professor Chaos, coming up with his next diabolical plan to harass the citizens of South Park. His first plot was to block the sun, forcing the people of South Park to live like mole people. The perfect plan – until his trusty sidekick, General Disarray, informs him that the Simpsons had already done it. Every plan that Professor Chaos comes up with is immediately shot down – because the Simpsons already did it.
Butters fragile mind shatters as he discovers that no matter what he wants to do The Simpsons Already Did It. He has a mental breakdown where everyone in the town starts to look like they were drawn from the Simpsons and all they say is “Simpsons Did It.”
The point of this synopsis? As a writer, this is something we all have to deal with. Coming up with an idea and then hoping it doesn’t sound ripped off. The other point? It’s okay if things are similar. In this day and age, it’s all but impossible to come up with a story that doesn’t have some sort of elements already written, going back to Homer’s the Illiad. Whether you know it or not things you’ve read, watched, even heard might creep into your work and you don’t even remember the source. Names, situations, and locations might change but overarching themes are timeless. Someone else might have written about what you are writing about – but they aren’t you, and they aren’t your words. At the end of the day, you can’t let the fear of being accused of copying or stealing someone else’s work stop you. I sat in on a lecture and a famous writer said, in essence, don’t be afraid to file off the serial numbers, but make it your own. And never forget, no matter how original you think you are The Simpsons (Probably) Did it!