How many times have you thought that reading a book or watching a movie? You know what I think? So what!
Smart people will tell you there are no original stories; that all stories have already been told. Of course, they’re talking archetypes. You know, “Boy meets Girl”, “Boy loves Girl”, etc. So, sure, based on that dry intellectual analysis, everything is a rip-off.
Or not. Why bother to produce anything ever again? Why do we pay to read and watch the same stories we’ve already read and watched?
There’s style. There’s twists. There’s variations on a theme. There’s enough to keep us coming back, even if we sometimes groan about a similarity that’s a bit too obvious.
So when I recently began to fret that some of the concepts in my books had been used before, I reminded myself that the possible influences I’ve had in my writing were no doubt influenced by people before them. And so on.
What I realized, relatively quickly (thankfully), is that no one does anything without influence from outside themselves. It is likely impossible for anyone involved with other people or informed on public affairs to claim they are not influenced by others. Possibly only the very naïve or the very isolated could make that claim and believe it. But being influenced is not the same thing as not having your own mind. It’s probably healthy to be “influenced” by life experiences, most often that is known by another name: learning.
In the process of learning how to write, a great many writers influenced me. Those that I admired for their imagination, those that I admired their writing and those that fell in both categories. It’s highly likely that some of my ideas were “kick-started” by things I’ve read or seen in the past. The only thing that matters is that the imagination driving the ideas is ultimately mine and the voice that puts it on page is likewise mine alone. It’s the characters that should differentiate and drive the ideas and allow any similarities to simply seem like new workings on familiar themes.
A bunch of people on a spaceship. Lost in Space and Star Trek did that pretty differently. A man travels back in time. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court or Terminator. Boy falls in love with girl. You can have this one.
I try to focus myself on what I can do to make my story as interesting and entertaining as possible. As for original, well, I’m sure you’ve read it all before.