It's been said that there's a fine line between research and plagiarism. Whoever said that was right.
I've never intentionally stolen any plots or characters, although I'll admit to reusing a few names. But it's insane how close two characters can be, by pure coincidence. I'll take the grandmother from Moana. She's the village crazy lady, always staring at the ocean, but then her outlandish stories turn out to be true. I've had the same concept for a character since 2015, and I just saw Moana yesterday. They are in no way related or based off each other, and yet they're so similar they might be sisters. (Good thing my character isn't rambling about some sort of magical rock or Disney might sue me!)
I'm not ashamed or afraid of characters who turn out just like other characters. Great minds think alike, after all. But every once in a while, I'll unintentionally recreate more than a character. Take the story of a young anthropomorphic animal, destined to become the ruler of their herd, when something terrible happens. They end up growing up with two friends before someone convinces them to return and take their place as leader. I'm actually not describing The Lion King, that was the first novel I ever finished. I'd finalized the plot for my book when I was probably 7; I didn't see The Lion King until I was 10. (And that's one of many reasons it will never see the light of publication.)
But do I manage to frighten myself. My most recent heart-stopper was none other than Rowan McNeil. When I decided against his playing the bagpipes (they're not really an indoor instrument), I scoured the internet for a Celtic instrument that would pair itself nicely with Caitriona's shepherdess flute. The fiddle would have done nicely, but add that to his wanderlust, love for storytelling, and facial hair, and you practically have Pa Ingalls. So I decided Rowan would play the timpan, which is kind of like a fiddle, but not.
Have you ever invented a plot, or a character, only to find out they've already been done? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and have a wonderful day!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.