It's been said for a while that there are no truly original ideas anymore. Which, well, maybe. I haven't decided whether I agree or disagree with that, but I subscribe to the concept that it's all about how you spin an idea and make it your own, and not whether the core ideas are similar to That Other Work.
I also believe that it is absolutely possible for two different people to come up with strikingly similar ideas at the same time. Without getting into the dirty little details, I've engaged in the Hunger Games vs. Battle Royale debate with a former writing buddy before. Now, I'm sure I'm biased as I did enjoy the Hunger Games series, and I'm also sure I wasn't as well-informed going into the debate as I could have been, as my knowledge of Battle Royale comes from friends who have read it and wikipedia. From what I've learned from those two sources, though, while the general concept might be similar (coincidentally or not, we'll never know), there are more than enough differences in execution and overall setting to make me roll my eyes at the people who are still harping on about how Suzanne Collins plagiarized another work and shouldn't be as successful as she is.
Most writers want to be regarded as having a unique voice to convey whatever scenarios their imaginations conjure, I would think. We all want to have those fresh ideas that make readers marvel, to be ahead of the trends so we can stand out. Yet, if we really are working from a limited pool, that's easier said than done.
Without sifting back through the archives, I'm fairly sure that I blogged about my "oh shit" moment when I was halfway through writing the first Disintegration and learned that it had a lot of similarities to the movie Robocop (the remake of which was in the works while I was writing). I panicked, but was talked off the ledge by a friend who had both seen the movie and knew my plans, so he could assure me there were enough differences to set me apart. No one's come after me with a lawsuit yet (or even whined at me about it), so I guess it's all good on that front.
So why this blog post now? Because it happened again. *headdesk* Since I got the contract, I went to scan through The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions just to reacquaint myself with what I actually wrote, since it had been a while. And what did I find? There's a scene in there that is quite similar to a scene in Dragon Age: Origins.
It's even documented on this blog that I wrote TFotMS well before playing DAO, but that doesn't mean I didn't start second-guessing myself. I tried to remain as spoiler-free as possible, but in my perusing of DA2-related stuff, did I come across something related to that scene and it got stuck in my head? Are the circumstances not as accidental as I thought? I mean, the common thread is admittedly not the most novel of concepts, but that they happened so close together in my life had me scratching my head a bit.
I'm not going to change it, of course. It's not exactly the same, and the characters, setting, etc. are certainly different enough. Will someone come across that scene and think, "Hmm, this seems a lot like that game I played"? Maybe. But for now, I'll just stick it in the "coincidences" file and not worry too much. Suzanne Collins got past it, and I can, too. ;)