Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is There Such a Thing as a New Idea?

I am pretty much convinced that EVERYTHING has already been done! After writing Hop! Plop!, a picture book in which a Mouse and an Elephant go on a seesaw, I discovered Just a Little Bit by Ann Tompert, a picture book in which... you guessed it! A mouse and an elephant go on a seesaw. The characters are the same. The setting is the same. The problem is the same. The style and solution are different.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first PB manuscript was about a mouse who fell into a hole. Well, I recently read the delightful Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller. Yup! It is about a mouse who falls into a hole and can't get out.

Does it matter that all ideas have been done before? I say a definitive NO. I actually think it is great. What better way to show kids that an idea can be executed in a number of different ways. Fractured Fairy Tales are deliberate retellings of the same old story in a new way. So, don't worry if your idea has been done before. As long as you find a unique way to present it, you are fine. You can't copyright an idea. You can only copyright the expresson of that idea.


Brianna Caplan Sayres said...

Hi Corey,

Excellent topic! I know I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally use someone else's idea. (I got so scared once to go into a book store and see a nonfiction book with nearly the same title of a manuscript I had started and done a lot of research for. But your point is exactly right. When I read through the book, I discovered that I was writing it in a completely different way!)

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog post! 297 words and 28 drafts is impressive (and makes total sense to me. Writing short is hard).

Neat to find out that we're neighbors. Did you do a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Springfield? I remember the manager pointing out your book to me several years ago. I thought it was adorable, and now I have a 2 year old who definitely might enjoy it.

I would love to do a manuscript swap some time. Not right away though, as I'm due with my second child in late January. After life calms down though it would be great!

Brianna :o)

Sherrie Petersen said...

You're absolutely right, Corey. It's like with music. You only have so many notes, but no one puts them together in exactly the same way. It's actually pretty cool how it works that way!

Z-Kids said...

My first book was about a hippo with the hiccups... Do you know how many books there are with hiccuping hippos? It's almost its own genre! And I have no idea why. I suspect it's because they both start with "H" - but then again, I don't see any hiccuping horse books. An odd phenomenon.

Meg Wiviott said...

I agree completely. Even in YA there are only so many stories to tell. The trick is making YOUR story YOUR story.

Rachel Hamby said...

That's a positive way to look at it, Corey. I usually get so bummed when I find a published PB that matches an idea or manuscript I've been toying with. Now I know it might not be hopeless. ~Rachel

Anonymous said...

You're so right. Every story has already been told. It's the manner in which we tell it (or retell it) that makes it unique.