Although we don’t always stop to think about it, most, if not all writers of all kinds are influenced by the things that they have read or watched. Subjects that they like become part of their own work, and no matter how small it may be some part of what they write about will be similar or exactly the same as their favorite works by other writers. This doesn’t mean that they are intentionally copying someone else’s work, although sometimes this is the intention but even then there are differences that set it apart, or that their story is the same. Many times it is an idea or theme that the new writer really likes and begin to write about themselves. After writing the basic idea they then often take it in their own direction.
An example of intentional copying can be found with the character of Supreme who was created by Rob Liefeld and published by Image comics. Supreme appeared in the comic, Youngblood in 1992 and was basically and evil version of Superman. When Supreme’s own comic book appeared the storylines and characters were based off of Superman’s classic comics. It was done intentionally as a tribute to Superman. Besides Supreme (Superman tribute) there were other characters such as Suprema (Supergirl tribute), and Radar the Hound Supreme (Krypto tribute). Rob Liefeld sucessfully created a modern-day spin (or what was modern-day at the time) on comic book stories and archtypes.
Two books with similar ideas that weren’t based off each other in any way are: Jack Stonely’s Scruffy, and Ann M. Martin’s A Dog’s Life. Both of these stories feature the journey’s of stray dogs as told from the dog’s point of view.
Also similar to these books, but even more so with each other are: Dayna Lorentz’s Dogs of the Drowned City trilogy, Peter Howe’s Waggit trilogy, and Erin Hunter’s Survivors series. All of these books are about dogs. All of them are children’s books, and all are about stray dogs and their adventures.
Besides the similarities there are many differences such as, in the first two books I mentioned these books are about dogs who have been stray’s since they were young pups, while many of the dogs in the last three previously had owners. For all books the actual characters and storylines are different as are the reason the adventure happens. The reason, for the last three I mentioned, is in Dogs of the Drowned City the dog’s owners are forced to leave them behind due to a hurricane. In Waggit’s Tale, Waggit is dumped in the park by his owner. In Survivors it is an earthquake which separates the dogs from their owners. What remains the same between the three is that in each the main dog in the story must join a pack of other dogs, although the length of time they remain in packs differs between stories.
Similarities can be found in every book in a certain genre, some are very similar, and some only begin to sound familiar. One example of a book beginning to sound familiar for a short time but quickly changing is: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, and Witch & Wizard by James Patterson. Both of these books are similar in the sense that many fun things are not allowed, such as reading. In Witch & Wizard this remains for the whole book, but in the Unwanteds, the unwanteds end up in a place where these things are allowed and are there for most of the book.
As a writer the unintentional similarities happen all the time when I write. I don’t always notice it until after the fact but my similarities are never big enough for me to need to change my work, just like other authors. In my next post in two weeks I am going to share with you the similarities and differences that I found in my Mortal Realm Witch series compared to other books that may have influenced my writing in some way. And even if they didn’t you will see similarities between my books and some of my favorites!
Until then I have some more questions for you to answer. You can still answer my previous post’s questions, at any time, if you haven’t yet done so.
What I want you to do now is to think about two or more of your favorite books or books you have read, and tell me:
What is similar about them? Is it a common character type, a common theme or idea? Or is it something else? Please describe them to show just how similar or different the books are.
There are some rules for this question. The first rule is that the books can’t be by the same author or by different authors that write in the same series, such as Wishbone, or Sabrina.
The second rule is that your common thing can’t just simply be the genre, it has to be something the authors wrote about in their books.
Other than these two things have fun comparing. For fun, you could also compare a favorite author, or just an author’s writing with one of their favorite books or authors. And if you want a bigger challenge try comparing two or more books from completely different genre’s and see what you can come up with that is similar, if anything!