Good writers borrow, great writers steal. T.S. Eliot

Vampires, angels, zombies and fairies have invaded the shelves in the teen section of the bookstores these days.

As a writer of Young Adult novels, I have read my share of them, and enjoyed reading them well enough, while calling it research. But after a while they all started to blend in my mind. The good guys were always young and beautiful, the bad ones, still young, but ugly. And not being either young or beautiful myself, this started to bother me.

Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought, to have a wicked and wise older woman as the protagonist? Something like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer with the mother as the slayer?

After bouncing the idea in my mind for several days, I presented it to my friends and fellow bloggers. They both liked the idea and even volunteer to co-author my story. Then, Mary Fran went to the bookstore and found a book which she thought had stolen our idea, and panicked. Wouldn’t we be copying if we wrote ours now?

I told her,”No, of course not. My story is different.” How could it not be when I had not read those other books?

It was only later that I remembered a surrealistic moment I experienced last year when reading Diane Gabaldon’s novel Outlander.

Both, Outlander and my young adult novel Two Moon Princess, involve time travel.

In Outlander, a nurse from 1945 England travels to XVIII century Scotland where she falls in love with a native.

In Two Moon Princess, a girl from medieval Spain travels to modern day California and then back to her world with the American boy she fancies.

But that is all they have in common, the time travel part. The story line, characters, voice and intended audience are totally different.

Yet, when I reached the last sentence in Outlander, I almost dropped the book. The sentence paraphrased eerily close the last sentence in Two Moon Princess. How could that be possible? I hadn’t read this book when I wrote mine.

So, maybe Mary Fran is right. Maybe my vampire book will not be totally original. But that won’t stop me from writing it. After all, according to Plato, there are only six basic plots, so any story we may tell has been told thousands of times already in a slightly different way.

We, writers are like children playing with dolls, dressing them with a new outfit and making them look new every day. And as long as we have fun doing it, why should we stop?

As I did in my previous blog ‘Rejecting Rejection’, I’m going to give you two sentences.—the two endings I mentioned above—and ask that you leave a comment telling me which one you prefer and why.

Please do, you’ll make my day.

#1. “And the world was all around us, new with possibility.”
#2. “Around us, the New World stood still, waiting.”

And in case you wonder which one was mine in the Rejecting Rejection blog, the answer is # 1.

So, congratulations to the winners. Oops, I said there will be no winners. So, I rectify congratulations to everybody that left a comment, and thanks so very much.

Carmen Ferreiro Esteban

If you are intrigued by the premise of my middle aged mom vampire story and want to read the first chapters, please go to  http://carmenferreiroesteban.wordpress.com

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9 Comments

  1. Nick Eldering said,

    March 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I am a fan of the second one more than the first

  2. Mary Fran said,

    March 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    The second one. And I’m almost sure that’s yours. Just sounds like you, but that’s not why I like it. It’s more lyrical (another reason it sounds like you) and succinct. Gets the job done beautifully.

  3. candace said,

    March 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Couldn’t say because I remembered which one was yours, and I definitely prefer it, but not sure if I’m prejudiced or not. I do think ideas are all around us, in the stratosphere or the collective unconscious or some such thing, and often two or more of us snatch the same idea out and put our own spin on it. BTW, love the idea of a wise older woman in a vampire or zombie story. Can’t wait to read it.

  4. March 9, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I, too, like the second one – though both are evocative and very effective. Very nice post, by the way. Love the idea of a wise, older woman protagonist. Keep up the good work.

  5. carolyn said,

    June 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Yes! No. 1 it is!
    No contest!
    By far the best!

  6. carolyn said,

    June 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Yes, the previous. I didn’t look close enough to see that there was another one going before I posted.
    It’s this one:
    The water was black like the boy had said. Black and still, like a piece of night fallen to earth.
    If I opened the book to this sentence, I’d buy it. The alternate sentence #2 is okay, but does nothing more than fill a page.

    • June 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      Great! That is indeed mine.
      Thanks Carolyn, for your vote of confidence. Writing is so subjective, it feels good when someone agrees.

  7. November 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    [...] A year ago I blogged about my idea of writing a paranormal story with “a wise older woman as the protagonist. Something like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer with the mother as the slayer,” as I put it then. (http://onpublishing.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/good-writers-borrow-great-writers-steal-t-s-eliot/) [...]


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