Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xmen

Or at least, X-Men is the specific point but the more general topic has to do with references. I know some people like to see in a query letter a reference to what other already published books the one you wrote is similar to and that can be hard to figure out. However, there are times when that sort of reference can't be avoided.

Because I can't avoid the connection between my two "mutant" series and X-Men even though they weren't exactly the inspiration. Not that I have anything against X-Men, I just don't know enough about them except for seeing a couple of the movies.

It started back when I was in a critique group. I submitted a few chapters from my YA novel, back then called Ephram's Defiance, and a couple different chapters, the others in the group mentioned x-men. Why? Because my characters in this one and in the adult book 1 have genetic mutations that give them certain abilities. Currently I even call them mutants because I hadn't figured out a different term yet (though I might have one now). But I have a feeling that even if I don't call them mutants, people will still think of X-Men if these books ever get published or at least the beta readers who get to read them may see a connection.

Okay, some of the characters have similarities. I really wasn't going to have a fire character or an ice one because that screams X-Men. Then I was that character in a dream, and yes, I mean one character who can do both. He's fun and I had to agree to let him join the Rogues. There is a weather character too, a male one, that was in a dream too. The main characters, definitely not one I know about though I really don't know all the mutants in X-Men but I don't think it's worth the effort to avoid every ability they ever have. The story is definitely different. I know they are absolutely different, even if I can't keep people from making the reference.

So, I guess I will just accept it.

What about you?
Does your novel have a distinct reference to something already out there?
Or is your writing style very similar to someone else's?


Eric W. Trant said...

There's no reason to shy away from already-published storylines. For instance, look at the Percy Jackson series. It is a blatant and overt take-off from Harry Potter, and he and critics admit it readily. He even has a school for the kids, a goofy boy-friend, and a wise and talented girl-friend, with a somewhat clumsy main character.

I don't know whose voice I write with, style-wise. Nobody ever says much about that, and I shelve that up with the you-look-like comments.

You "look" like Tom Cruise. But not really.

You "write" like Stephen King. But not really.


I'm also not sure whose storyline I might mimic. People say different things when they read me -- Arthur C. Clarke came up recently.

No idea. Never read Clarke.

- Eric

Cheree said...

Yes, I've been told (not by anyone who's actually read the book but just read the log line) my vamp novel sounded like Vampire Academy... so, I stopped pitching it that way.

I now say it's Fight Club meets Underworld.

I think people make these comparisons just because it's easier to read something that is familiar rather than one that is out of the box. The thing you have to focus on is the differences between yours and X-men... but at least you've already got a good readership with those who love the X-men and comic books.

mymy said...

am no writer (i just love reading books), but i certainly agree with Eric! :)

S. F. Roney said...

You bring up a great point that authors try to avoid previous works. But, there's nothing new under the sun, so it's impossible to avoid reworking an old idea.

Dawn Embers said...

Eric - I never noticed the similarity between Jackson and Potter. Then again I've only read on Jackson book and none of the Potter series. I haven't heard of Clarke either but hopefully he's a really good author. ;-)

Cheree - I bet vampire series have all kinds of references with all the books that are out there over the last few years. I don't know about the readership for my book since I don't know if they will like reading about gay mutant characters.

mymy - Thanks for commenting.

S.F. Roney - Why thank you. The reality of not having something 100 percent new is a good point too.