There's No Such Thing as a New Idea
(And That's Okay)
As you all know by now, I wrote my first book earlier this year. Many of you have read it (massive thanks!) and know that the story follows a Roman soldier who was present at the crucifixion and resurrection.
After my kindle promo a few weeks ago, I received a lovely review on The Hidden Soul (If you're reading, I'd like to say a huge thanks for your support!)
I'm not exactly on top of everything, and I rarely go to see new movies, but there is one movie that just came out (I think), that I heard about and want to see.
The movie is Risen. The comment I mentioned above compared The Hidden Soul to that movie.
I was shocked, really, to think that my book came anywhere in the same ball park as a movie that seems to be incredibly successful. My book, my $2.99 Kindle novella? I was blown away.
But I'm not here to promote the book even further (You already know about it!). No, I have a point here – one that is apparently very relevant to all the books, movies, and stories that we write:
There's no such thing as a new idea.
Seriously, there isn't. When I first came up with the concept of The Hidden Soul, what I loved the most about it was that it was different. The story of the crucifixion has been told hundreds and hundreds of times, but as far as I knew, never from the eyes of a Roman soldier.
Then I heard about Risen, and, curious about a story that was suddenly so similar to mine, I looked it up. I was surprised to find just how similar it was. No, the lead character in Risen isn't anything like Marcus (my protagonist), but the story line, the POV, and the basic concept of a Roman soldier telling the story of the Passion, apparently wasn't as unique as I had thought.
And I didn't know what to think.
Did that make my story obsolete? Was it bad timing, or will I always have to accept blockbuster movies as competition? I had thought my story was unique, but it turns out it wasn't.
That's when I realized something.
No story is different. As I pondered the similarities between my book and Risen, I realized that I could not think of a story that hasn't been done before, or a concept that hasn't already been conceived. Everything, every romance, science fiction, suspense, historical, anything, every plot and story line, has been done before.
That's what makes fiction writing hard. But it's also what makes it great.
Why great? Because it takes away the pressure. If there is no way that you can come up with a completely different story, than you won't feel the need to try. Yeah, your idea has, in some way, been done before. But everyone's has. We're all in the same boat here: The business of taking old ideas and making them new and interesting.
Coming back to the example of my book, while it isn't new, it is still unique. When comparing it to Risen, I found that the lead characters really weren't that similar, and that my plot wasn't identical.
The protagonist of Risen, while he might have been present at all events, didn't crucify Jesus. He also didn't have the struggle with the presence of a soul. No, from what I've read (anyone who has watched it, let me know if I'm wrong here!), the lead character is actually a typical Roman soldier – more like my supporting character, Justus.
Who still isn't identical to the Risen protagonist.
My point here is, if we try to come up with a completely different story, a completely new idea, we're going to fail. Somewhere, somehow, we're going to find a story that's just like ours. That's just the way it is.
But we can do something about that.
Yes, your story may not be a completely new idea, but that doesn't mean it can't be different.
As in, a hundred other writers took the plot this way – so you take it the other. Same concept, different direction. Or, this is the way it typically ends, so we'll twist it and get a whole new ending. Again, same story, different ending.
Or we'll do something like make our protagonist a Roman Soldier who hates death.
See? Different. Not new, not a never-before-seen idea, but if you make it your own, it's going to have that one quality that only you can have:
It's your story.
You wrote it.
And there isn't another book out there that is
identical to it.
When we get right down to it, books are like fingerprints. From a distance, they all look the same. But if we study them, read them, and really compare them, no two books are the same. They can't be.
Because every story has its own purpose, its own destiny, and God has a different plan for each author and book.
Have you read The Hidden Soul yet? Did you know that the sequel has been published? Check it out Here!
I would love to hear from you! Tell me about your WIP, in particular, your story line. Have you noticed any similar stories? How is yours different?
(Oh, and on a side note, have you seen Risen yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts!:)