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?