Have you ever read a newly released book or watched a new movie and thought, "that's A LOT like the story I'm working on!" It happens more often than you think, and comes from sources that you'd least expect. This just happened to me last week after viewing our awaited rental of Rio (a surprisingly fun movie--well worth the watch). Though it is vastly different from my finished Woven novel, the way they executed the relationship building of the lead birds is almost/nearly the same.
(Lead guy character traits - not the same - phew!)
I doubt readers would notice, but I could be wrong. Even the song at the end of the film, by Taio Cruz, matched an underlying theme of the story, as viewed by the lead guy. Creepy! In other words, the end song would go well with the end credits, if Woven ever amounted to that.
The lyrics say it all. And that's enough hints for now. ;)
This phenomenon is incidentally called The Collective Unconscious. In short, it's similar/original thoughts that occur in different people around a close time frame. Did we really need three asteroid movies in 1998? Or three volcano movies in 1997? Maybe not, but three different production groups once thought it was a good idea!
What do you do if you find your story meshing with another? Is your totally awesome, must-read story compromised? NO! There is a preventative step and a few tricks to help settle your conscience.
Research Your Idea - Google your idea and see what else is out there that might be similar to your story. You might even find inspiration along the way.
Alter Your Idea - Scan through your manuscript again, for good measure, and tweak your concept just enough so it feels the same and presented in a fresh way.
Read/Watch Your Genre - That way, you get a good view/feel of what's out there, right now. Surely you can take a similar concept in a very different direction!
"Don't call me Shirley..."
Wait It Out - Ideas and concepts recycle all the time. Someone may have beat you to the punch this time, but it shouldn't take long for a new audience to surface.
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Catching similarities to your stories in other mediums keeps us writers on our toes. Don't be bummed if your ultra original story is the same plot as Avatar (I was actually worried about that for a while...). Ideas are cheap, but your execution has limitless possibilities.
Has this ever happened to you? From what book, movie, song, play, etc? How do you battle The Collective Unconscious when you find it beyond your manuscript?
I'm David, and "I have a reason for life."