Hey! They stole my line!

Have you ever felt as though someone stole an idea from you, even though you'd never said a word about it?  My fellow mothers out there know exactly what I'm talking about - we've all been caught saying "Hey - that's what I was going to name MY baby!"  or "Wow, I like that name, I think I'll use that!"  *hangs head in shame for the second one*

I’ve been working on a new WiP for a little over a week now, and maybe I’ve been under a rock the past few months or something (I'm willing to admit I probably have been), but when I came up with the name Collin as a character in my new WiP, I was pretty darn proud of myself.  I didn’t know any Collins personally. I wasn’t able to recall hearing the name Collin at all in recent years, and I spent days researching names online until I’d found the *perfect* one for my character.  I was happy as a clam, sitting at my computer for hours on end, writing “Colling this” and “Collin that”, in an inspired writing frenzy.

Then Lovemuffin and I watched The Ugly Truth.  And what is the main male character’s name in The Ugly Truth?  (Those of you who’ve seen it, please feel free to say it with me…)  Collin!  Suddenly I was seeing and hearing Collin all over the place  - especially in TV shows and magazines.  Oh, and Made of Honor?  I've seen it at least five times.  Can you guess what Kevin McKidd's character's name is?  Colin!  (So I had heard the name, even though I didn't realize it.)  I was like WHAT?  Who do these people think they are?  They stole my name!  

 It didn’t help that a week before I’d realized Collin was the new “Andrew” (or whatever the popular name is at the moment – like I said, I’ve been under a rock I guess, so I have no clue what “the” popular name is at the moment) almost an entire scene I’d thought up (and was quite proud of) was played out right in front of my eyes on  a TV show.  And about a month and a half ago I was watching a rather popular movie – a love story mind you, written by a very famous author (which had been adapted into a movie), when halfway through the movie I realized the main male character’s name was the same as one of my mine in I’ll Love You Until!

I pondered over that last dilemma for over a week, worried it would look as though I’d copied that particular story.  But do you know what I finally decided?   After much contemplation I said to myself, “Oh well!  This movie may be a few years old, but I’d never read the book, I just barely watched the movie – no one ever told me the plot – and I’m NOT changing my character’s name!”   Good for me, right? 

One reason the same story lines and names appear quite often, in my opinion, is the fact that we are constantly inundated with media, especially those of us who frequent the internet. We can go youtube, twitter, myspace, facebook, and so on and so forth, in a matter of seconds.  Videos, stories, comics, interviews and pretty much anything we can think of are constantly flashing before of our eyes.  TV shows are debuting and being cancelled faster than I can say “Hey, I think I’m starting to get into this show.”, and movies are accessible more than ever before, thanks to redbox, Netflix, itunes and other convenient services.  And so, with all of those ideas and stories appearing before our eyes and soaking into our subconscious, how can we not be influenced by it all? That has to be how Collin got into my head.  (The other two issues though, they must have just happened to be coincidences.)  

The whole situation got me thinking, so here are my questions for this week -  How many other writers have dealt with this same issue?  What was your reaction when you saw a key scene in your writing show up on a weekly sitcom, for example, or when a particular setting you’d thought as original ended up being already written by someone else?  Did you revise, and change it?  Or stand firm with your decision?  

I’d love to hear your thoughts!



1 comment:

Melissa Hurst said...

I had something like this happen to me recently. The mc in a new YA book has almost the same first and last name as a secondary character in my WIP. I decided to keep the name for now.