Question of the week: Do we ever find ourselves writing dialog, a scene or characters that seem familiar, only to find that we have used them in other stories? If so, do we switch gears or carry on?
Well, first of all, it HAS happened to me; not in a story, but in a poem.
I was a multiple contributor for the St. Jude Shrine Book of Inspiration which they put out online for a few years. They had planned the first one as a physical book to sell, but it was due out during a recession some years ago, so they decided to make it available for everyone over the internet. (They are gone now, but fortunately, I had the foresight to download them.)
Since they were of a Christmas and Faith theme, it was rather easy to find myself composing the same sentiments in the same way by the third year!
I switched gears. I scrapped what I had written and looked for another facet to explore.
As for stories, the answer is no, well, almost no.
More often than not, I will stumble across a piece of writing and think, “Where did that come from?”, the be shocked when I realize that was a scene which I thought up and put down before I forgot about it, (which I am obviously capable of doing quite nicely, thank you very much). I knew that I could carry a story on or be inspired by it when I read the piece agian, but it was born. It needed to be put down and stored away for future reference.
Again, it never cease to amaze me how the stories and characters have lives of their own, and not only refuse to cooperate when they don’t want to, but make demands when they DO want to do something of which you were not consciously aware.
As for the “almost no”, that would be when I picked up a work after some time that is longer than my previous pieces. Twice I found myself adding, or starting to add, a scene which I already had down in the story. One was when I started from the bottom and added a scenes which I had already written, the other time was when reading from the top, I added a scene, which I had already incorporated into the story later on.
What did I do?
Did I do a better job with the one scene this time?
That answer once was “No” and the other time, “Yes”.
Did the other scene work better where I placed it this time?
That answer this time was “Yes” once, “No” in the other.
Would I allow the same scene I more than one story?
That answer would be “No”. So far, may stories have all been unlike one another.
I wondered how people with long-running series and a core group of characters kept from repeating themselves; I suppose that is what keeps a series fresh, (although many are run past their expiration dates.)
As I think, if a person finds themselves writing the same scene in other stories, they are in a rut and had better spread their wings a bit more.
Don’t you agree?