There’s no such thing as coincidence.
Except, perhaps when it comes to book ideas.
There’s a commonly held idea that there are only 7 plots available for stories, and they just keep getting reused (hence why The Lion King bears an uncanny resemblance to Hamlet – minus the lions, of course).
But what happens when your book idea has more than just a few commonalities with an existing work? (One you’d never read, or even heard of, before writing.)
I mean, obviously, if you wrote a book a bout a young orphan named Mary Blotter who discovers she’s a wizard and goes off to train at a magical school named Pigzits and battles the evil wizard Coldemort, you’re going to have issues.
But what if the similarities aren’t quite as close?
I mentioned last week that the closest comp title I can find for my Adult Urban Fantasy WiP is Julie Kenner’s Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. I wasn’t even aware the books existed when I wrote my first draft (though now I found them, I’m really enjoying them).
Except, the more I read, the more coincidences I find.
Like, that our main characters have both been out of their supernatural professions for 15 years, both have a young teen and toddler, and both have to hide their supernatural activities from a disapproving husband, resulting in marital strife.
There are lots of differences, of course. My main character is a witch (well, mage), not a demon hunter, and my books don’t have a religious basis (unlike Kenner’s, where the MC works for the Vatican), although both characters have a friend/helper who is a priest/minister.
Also, my MC’s teen is her step-daughter, creating a different dynamic between them than Kenner’s MC who is the birth mom (although her kids have two different fathers).
I don’t want to be seen as copying Kenner, and yet I’m not sure if I can change any of the similarities due to their importance to the plot.
I already scrapped a MG fairy tale retelling because (despite Googling my plot before writing) I discovered an existing book (by E.D. Baker, queen of fairy tale retellings, no less) with the exact same storyline (Sleeping Beauty has a younger sister who didn’t get affected by the spell, and is actually the one who saves her sister). We even gave our King and Queen the same names!
So, what do you think? Do I need to make some changes to create more differences between the two? Or will the world survive two somewhat similar books (I mean, the world survived having two movies about ants come out the same year. And two about penguins. And two about fish/sharks.)
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.