Because you spend months or years developing your ideas, believing no one has ever thought of them before. And then you learn about some stupid show back in 2000 that didn’t even last two seasons that has already used them — and terribly.
Needless to say, I’m a bit peeved and more than a little hesitant to send out the query letter now because any agent/editor/publisher familiar with that show is going to think I stole all my ideas from it.
So, what to do?
At first I thought of rewriting some more (dear gods, the thought made my heart weep blood!), but my novel has already been eight years in the making. I can’t rewrite that much now, I’d go insane! Also, while it would be simple enough to tweak things, but then the story still wouldn’t be what it is. For instance, a minor point is that Surano’s name means “saviour of mankind,” so Kyo calls her Angel quite often. Oh, but wait, that’s part of the show’s title! D:
It’s like the show’s creators looked into the future and saw my book, and decided to get the jump on it. And it is aggravating.
But that’s how it goes. All production is just a race to see who can take credit for the idea first. I’ve spent eight and a half years working on Lavender; if I’d gotten published six years ago I would have beaten Rick Riordan in setting a Greek mythology trend. Now my query letter looks like I took an element from every literary hit and slapped it in my novel for the hell of it.
So again, what to do?
Fortunately, I have faith in my writing skills. Yes, a lot of my elements are popular right now. While that is a huge blow to my ego, however, it also might sway some agents to actually request a partial because they know this stuff sells. And I’m confident that agents who read the partial will also read the full manuscript. Why? First, because I know how to write, which many aspiring novelists just can’t manage. Sad, but true (and I’ve taken enough CRW classes to know this). That alone should be enough to pique the agent’s interest. Second, because however many individual elements I have that ring familiar, the story as a whole is still unique because of the way I use them. There is no story that hasn’t been told, but there are countless ways to tell a story.
So, realistically, this is what I’m going to do:
1) Suck it up. This is the way it is, and I have to work with the circumstances.
2) Continue my revisions. Granted, I may have a few more to make now, to emphasize certain things and tone down others. But the revisions must continue nonetheless.
3) See if I can’t reword my query letter a bit. This might seem like cheating, but the entire point of a query letter is to show why your work is different from everything else out there. Now that I know what’s been done, I need to emphasize what hasn’t.
4) Send out my query on my self-appointed deadline. It’s currently 12:00AM on the 3rd. I’m pressing send at noon on the 4th. 36 hours left! 😀