IWSG—When someone has your exact same idea


The first Wednesday of every month, The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes to share struggles, insecurities, triumphs, doubts, and other odds and sods. This month, it coincides with the first day of the A to Z Challenge, so this post is going to be really short even by my standards. I actually had another post written and scheduled, but pushed it off for next month when I discovered something more pressing.

Given the subject of my alternative history, I’ve been hanging around the Alexander Palace Time Machine message boards a lot lately, though I haven’t registered yet. And so I just discovered someone else (who seems a fair bit younger than I am) is also writing a book about the rule of Tsar Aleksey II. This person also seems to have started around the same time I did.

Maybe it’s my fault for having this project on hiatus for so many years before starting over largely from scratch, but I’m still shocked anyone else has my same idea. Granted, the starting premise and storylines seem a fair bit different from mine, but I’m still surprised anyone else would even consider this premise in an alternative history. Not to be morbid or disrespectful to the dead, but a big reason this hasn’t been a common subject (like, e.g., the Nazis winning WWII) is because a lot of people think Aleksey would’ve died young anyway, or wouldn’t have been well enough to rule in his own right.

This person’s English also leaves a lot to be desired, and some of the premises are a bit questionable, like the idea of Aleksandra starting off as Regent. I’d like to think I’m not only a much better writer, but that my premises and storylines are much more historically and realistically sound. My Empress-Consort is also a morganatic princess seven years older than His Majesty, not Princess Ileana of Romania (five years his junior). I also doubt this other person has the unusual Imperial couple saving over nine million people from the Nazis.

How do you cope when you discover someone has your exact same baseline premise? I know it’s not plagiarism or any sort of copying, but I liked the idea of having a unique idea.


12 thoughts on “IWSG—When someone has your exact same idea

  1. It’s tough when we find someone who has similar premises, but it sounds like your stories will be different. I’ve read here all the amazing research you’ve been doing. You’ve got a great handle on the history. Good luck!


  2. Something that helps is to consider a writing exercise or prompt; if you’ve ever done this in school or a writing workshop. The instructor gives a topic or a sentence or even just one word. Then writers create a short story or piece of writing based on the prompt. The results are always going to be different because each writer brings their own point of view, experiences, outlook, and beliefs to their writing, not to mention the skills.

    It’s never fun to see someone has your same idea, but it’s likely safe to say someone else will ALWAYS have your idea. Think how many people push publish on smashwords or other self pub formats every day. Think how many THINK of doing that but haven’t written the book yet? Everyone it seems wants to write a book. But only YOU can write YOUR book. It’s always going to have your flavor and outlook and your writer’s voice. Even with the same exact idea, the two works will not be the same if written independently of each other.

    That’s why I would personally encourage you not to dwell on this too long, or to be upset by it (though you are certainly able to have your own feelings about the situation). Comparing whether the other person’s writing is good enough probably isn’t helpful either. The writing will be different. And you can only control what you put out there.

    Stay encouraged! You have a passion for this topic and that will carry through in your writing.


  3. Also a little unnerving is watching a movie with parts of your idea. I just try to think “brilliant minds…” 😉


  4. Oh! I think I saw your post in the group the other day, right? A few years ago, I was writing a paranormal where the MC’s soul…or essence..or something ended up in another person’s body. I was interning at a literary agent’s at the time and one of the manuscripts I read had the same premise! But in reading it, actually, the stories were completely different.

    Last year, I read an alternate history novel where Nicholas and Alexandra had a fifth daughter, who was smuggled out of the country because of unrest. The Romanovs are ripe for alternate histories!


    • Yes, I blog and write under a pseudonym. Too many people mangle my Slovakian surname, and I never liked how my real first name is the next-most common female name in history after only Mary.

      I’ve heard about that book, and the conspiracy theory about the fifth daughter. For some reason, I really thought my own idea was safe, since everyone seems to focus on the other members of the family.


  5. Carrie-Anne,
    I changed my author name largely because someone else is using my legal name (Anne Doucette) to write vampire stories and people were asking me if it was me – and why even go there? As for book content, as with many things it’s amazing the people we meet and the synchronicities that happen. To be honest, when those kinds of things happen (it seems like someone else is channeling the same stream of thought as me, which does happen!) I usually ask myself – how invested am I in this story/work? Is what I’m writing better? If I’m already invested and I’m pretty sure I’m doing a good job with it, then just say – okay – this person is on the same train as me – and that probably means other people are on the same train as us – and that means this work is likely to have a ready audience who might like it. And go for it all the more.
    Does that make sense?
    Good luck!


  6. This is actually one of my fears, and why I’ve been stalled out on posting one of my 50×50 posts. I had an author tell me once not to share any story ideas I have with anyone, anywhere, because they could get co-opted. At the same time, I like to test out the waters and see if folks are interested in the story, and truthfully if I’ve been carrying it around for seven years and still haven’t finished it, if someone takes it and runs with it, kudos for them I guess. I still struggle with it though.


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