While watching Snow White the other day, my little one looks over and says to me:
“Mommy, the queen from Snow White looks like Maleficent, they must be cousins.”
I had to chuckle. Then I got to thinking about…nothing else other than literary cousins (AKA the primo/prima of written word). Now what makes something a literary cousin so to speak? I figure they have to have some similarities. Right? Right. This is the kind of thing we authors wonder about. Is it appropriate to mention in a query that our book is similar to another? I mean does a literary agent or editor really want to hear all that? Besides what makes a book so fantastic if it is considered to be a literary prima to another book already out there?
So while looking out for ourselves we search titles on Amazon. We then Google similar titles all for the sake of originality. Then that dreaded moment comes when we discover how unoriginal we really are–“Wo is me! Aye me. Little me. Our book is drowning,” you say to your muse. You are perfectly still. Then it dawns on you that lemons don’t make juicy lemonade without a twist of the fruit and a little sugar, and running shoes aren’t much aid to a runner without that special double knot in them to keep them secure on the feet. So you take a conference call with your manuscript, and why not, you have worked so hard on it? Does it have a similar voice, plot, setting, character(s)? You nail down the similarities and you chip away at the pieces that you fear have any slight echo. I’m not talking plagiarism. That little devil is a whole other story. Your creation just had to be a bit similar. How could you have known, you were too busy creating it! Slowly you realize something else. Aha! There it is! A hybrid. Your hybrid.
Finally you pick yourself up from the nitty gritty dirt. You wipe your face. You tinker away until the sun goes down…and voila you are back in the game! Enough said. You are having a blast!
You will find that there are sure to be ridiculous (shall I say hefty) amounts of literature similar to your own (even if but a smidge, a smudge, a little pinch even) if you are a writer. Somewhere out there every writer has at least one rockin’ prima. The great thing about literature is that everything no matter how similar it is, has a spin or a twist on it. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t get a kick out of these Literary Prima’s that may have caught your fancy, maybe you even found that they glimmer equal amounts–to your delight:
The article mentioned above is really very interesting. If you wish to read further (although this link does not give the full article only more than I have shared with you) you can click here to read more.