This is one of those posts with a question (or two. Or three) at the end. I hope you’ll answer.
I’m going to give you three examples.
#1- Blind Sight: A few years ago, I had an idea for a book about a serial killer that I called BLIND SIGHT.
He lived in a small town world (big surprise, huh?) and was killing women. The small town world police force hadn’t figured out he was active, because the deaths of the women weren’t the same.
The funny thing about that story is that from the beginning, I just knew my heroine. Her name was Cassaundra, but everyone called her Cassie.
Cassie was a touch psychic. If she touched something someone else had touched who’d recently experienced an intense emotion, she lived his experience and emotions. But that was the only way to see through him, unless he was very close and experiencing extremely intense emotions.
Cassie does her best to NEVER see through anyone, because most experiences she picks up aren’t pretty. One day, Cassie touches something that the serial killer has touched in the bookstore where she works, and it’s as if she’s inside the killer’s body. She’s seeing through his eyes as he disposes of the body of a young woman.
After spritzing the round table, she cleaned the top and finally made the circuit pushing chairs into their proper places. Glancing down, she saw a cup left behind on a seat. As if in slow motion, it toppled off the edge. Without thinking, she caught it—then remembered she’d forgotten to replace her gloves.
The vibration crashing through her was like thunder from a colossal drum, quaking long and hard and painful, deafening her to the sounds going on around her. A brilliant flash stabbed into her eyes and, as her irises contracted painfully, she nearly collapsed to her knees.
The bookstore disappeared.
Her body shuddering in the cool air of night, Cassie smelled dust and rain on the breeze. A feeling of devout piety stole over her as her heartbeat slowed to a sluggish thud. Casting her gaze downward, she saw a young woman, her face white and still as if it had been carved from alabaster, lying near the edge of a rocky crag. With hands that were not her own, she crossed the girl’s stiffening arms over her cold, unmoving chest, then straightened her skirt, pulling it to her knees.
As gently as if she were putting a child to bed, she slipped the body over the precipice where it crashed helplessly into a tree, flipped almost completely around, hit the ground, and rolled down the steep slope until it rested brokenly against a jagged boulder.
I’d never even heard of touch psychics until a few years ago, when I saw a movie called, “Vibes” with Jeff Goldblum and Cyndi Lauper.
Kind of a silly comedy, but I enjoyed it. 🙂 In it, Jeff Goldblum is a touch psychic. In one scene, he helps his girlfriend fold laundry, and when he picks up her clean underwear, he “sees” another man taking them off of her.
That movie cooked in my brain for a long time until I finally took that ability for my book.
Now, I’m working through this book a chapter at a time with my critique group. One day, Marilyn Pappano comes to critique and says, “Susan. Do you know Kay Hooper?”
I thought for a moment. “I went to school with Frances Hooper, and there’s another family of Hoopers in C-Town, but that’s all the Hoopers I know. Is she related to any of them?”
Marilyn shook her head. “No, Kay Hooper’s a writer. Ever heard of her?”
“Nope.” I always love discovering a great author. “Is she good?”
“Yes, she’s very good. She had a book come out not too long ago called, “Stealing Shadows.” It’s about a touch psychic who lives in a small town, where a serial killer is active. And get this–the touch psychic’s name is Cassandra.”
I was flummoxed! I didn’t know what to say. I’d never heard of the woman. Never read her books. Never even heard her speak at a conference or been in a class she’d taught, but I was in the process of writing a story that sounds as if I’ve lifted it from her.
How could that happen???
One thing for sure, I’m not psychic. I certainly didn’t channel my book from Kay.
I’ve since read Kay’s book, and it’s absolutely wonderful! She is a master writer and story-teller. Any similarity between my book and hers is merely superficial. (And a little hopeful on my part.)
I wouldn’t mind being her when I grow up. LOL.
#2–Several years ago a friend of mine wrote a story that had a terrorist attack mass killing as part of the story. She and her husband took a trip to the area where the story was set, she took pictures and notes and plotted how the attack would happen.
She worked hard on the book and had interest from an editor, who was working with her to get it ready for publication.
Before she’d finished the book, a tragedy just like the one in her story became headline news.
Upset and worried that A-people would think she was trying to cash in on that tragedy or B-the FBI might investigate her, thinking she had something to do with it (apparently it was nearly identical, at least in her mind) she stopped all work on that book and never did finish it.
As far as I know, to this day as talented as she is, she’s never sold a book.
#3 Another woman I know wrote about a death in her WIP. Not long afterward, a famous singer died the exact same way and made big headlines.
This woman considered changing her story out of respect for the singers family.
Question I hope you’ll answer. 🙂
- Have you ever written something and found it was at least outwardly similar to someone else’s story?
- Even scarier, have you ever written something, then had it come true in real life?
- What do you think the writer should do? Drop it or keep on trucking and hope to cash in?