Monday, September 13

It's My Plot, I Tell You, MINE!!!!

I heard long ago that there are only seven original plots in the world. Well, Rudyard Kipling claimed there are 69, someone else claims 20, 36, and one guy who boils it down to three. But the saying most of us know (I think) says there are seven. If you're curious what they are, here is a great blog about the subject. And I'm okay with it with knowing that I write romance, which every single time breaks down into boy meets girl, boy screws up/loses girl, then they live happily ever after.

However (and I say this in an extremely put-upon tone), the tiny details of the plot are supposed to be original. We all have ideas and think - wow! No one else could put that spin on the Regency ball/heart of gold athlete/long lost twin (or is that just a soap opera plot?). Some you may remember me mentioning that I used to be a wedding planner. From my descriptions of the very first wedding I ever coordinated, all my friends (through their snorting laughter) said "you should write a book!". After about a year, I agreed. Not that my weddings were a cluster of improbable badness, but emotions tend to run high at events that eat up $30,000 in one day, and people do weird things. So I started to jot down all the funny happenstances, fully intending to spin them into a novel one day.

That day has arrived. About five years ago I came up with the basic plot. Two years ago I filled out my plot outline, even came up with names, but got distracted by another story burning to be told. And then, much to my chagrin, Nora Roberts debuted her Bride Quartet. Four books about weddings. How could I possibly be mad - she's my favorite author, and the books are terrific. But I worried that agents and publishers would read my query and think I copied her - and am only a pale imitation of the Great One. Nevertheless, I pushed on, confident that with my years of wedding experience, I had a great story to tell, and it didn't matter.

I'm three chapters in, and have actually outlined a trilogy for this story. Tons of time and effort have already gone into this labor of love. (Cue the ominous music). This week, I picked up the much anticipated Christie Ridgway book Crush On You. I'd looked forward to this for a year, ever since I gushed to her at the 2009 RWA conference about her knitting novels, and she divulged that her next trilogy would take place at a winery. Well yes, it is set in a winery, but they do weddings at the winery. Uh oh - another fabulous, famous author doing a wedding trilogy before mine even gets written. This can't be good. But I keep reading, remembering the great spin I'd planned around a reality show about weddings that twists throughout my trilogy. Wouldn't you know it - a third of the way in, Ms. Ridgway introduces a reality wedding show. I almost chucked the book across the room in my frustration (but I didn't, because it is a really fun book that everyone should read).

Now what
? Let me tell you, I did not get much sleep that night. Do I keep writing? Is it possible the publishing world would dismiss my book as a half-assed imitation of the real thing? Or do I believe that there really are only seven original plots, and it is okay, indeed, expected that there are similarities? Spoiler alert - I'm still plugging away. Because I love the storyline I've created, and believe it is really good. But please, everyone, weigh in. I want to know if you think I'm wasting my time. Or will wedding books replace vampires as the next trend?

6 comments:

  1. There is always YOUR original plot. Keep pushing. Sounds like a fun trilogy.

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  2. Definitely stick. But if I were you I'd stop reading your favorite authors or thinking about them, apparently they are reverse thought stealers :)

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  3. I agree with Em and Margie...keep working at it. I think wedding books are medium-to-boiling hot at all times...because 1) it's the ultimate romance (i mean would we be going through the 500th season of bachelor/bachelorette if people didn't like weddings?) and 2) because of the high drama. Whether your main character is the bride or a coordinator dealing with bridezilla, it's a storyline rife with complications, twists, turns and drama.

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  4. Agreed, Christi.
    Your voice and characters are what sets you apart. I once sent in a partial to Intrigue, and they rejected it. Several months later, I read my almost identical plot. What happened? Shrug. I don't know, but I do know it's true that there are only so many plots.
    I love this book of yours. It's by far my fave! I love weddings and especially love the wedding shows on TV.

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  5. keep going. it's your voice and your story. tell it your way!

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  6. Yes, what they all said. I'm late, anyway, so I may as well agree. It's a great story anyway!

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