Thursday, April 21, 2011

Overthink Syndrome

I've been thinking too much. This kind of behavior kept me at the top of most of my classes throughout school and made me the teacher's pet for a number of years (never mind the flack I earned from my classmates), but it didn't really come back to bite me until I started writing. I've always been a somewhat detail oriented person. The main reason I love suspense novels and murder mysteries is because I like piecing together all of the small things that help the main character find out whodunit. On that same token, I like it when all the details about a character or story fall into place to create a person who feels real in the minds of the reader.

Now, I think I'm just driving myself crazy.

Maybe it's a pattern thing. I wrote a fanfiction story a while back that featured two main characters who were friends, began living together and eventually became lovers. My first (not self-pubbed) novel was, on a surface level, kind of about a similar thing. The stories really aren't that much alike, if for no other reason than one is a fantasy novel where the main character has never had any kind of sexual contact with another man, and I worked to make sure the stories were as dissimilar as possible because I hate the idea of repeating myself. Even if no one who read the first will read the second, I don't want to feel like I don't have any originality. Is that the case? I think I'm going to become paranoid that I'm writing the same story with different variations. Crap, maybe I am. But that can't be why I'm having trouble with my current unnamed future masterpiece, can it?

So, the start of the paranoia really came this morning. I got an idea (last week) for another novel that I think is going to be brilliant. When I read a post at Reviews by Jessewave, I started to wonder if people were turned off by my first book because there was some infidelity. Then I started to worry that writing another similiar story (with one person who is married) would seem like a repeat to those who read the first one, though the circumstances are quite different. I mean, should I make the cheater and his boyfriend not end up together just so it feels like a very different story or am I worried for nothing?

I don't want to get to the point where I'll only write "safe" stories that I know people will read, but what if I am setting myself up to not have a following? It's not the money from book sales that I'm worried about (though having that guaranteed would be nice), it's being read. Being thought of as a good, or at least decent, writer. It's feeling secure that people who read my stories know they're in for something with well-developed characters and an interesting (read: not recycled) plot.

So, how do I get my muse to cooperate? One of the things I've learned from years of writing fanfiction is that two writers can have the same characters and basic scenario and write two vastly different stories. But is that basic idea acceptable if the stories in question are from the same writer? Or is the perception of all stories feeling as "fresh" as possible worth all of this worrying?

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