Ever heard the expression "with friends like these, who needs enemies?" For writers that is something you almost want to tattoo on the back of your hand.
 


Is it any wonder themes of paranoia are so common in stories? This is how writers feel 24/7


 
People mean well, but I've found of all types of artistry, none is so "open' to criticism from friends & loved ones as writing. None, save singing, also have the phenomenon where every Tom, Dick & Harry thinks they can do it. It is one of the worst pitfalls of being an author.

Something getting under my skin right now is that I am working on an idea with friends based off my Tournament Series. In adapting it and changing things around I've been stuck at a few points asking myself 'how the hell do I do that without changing everything?" I made the mistake of asking friends for help. Many were good, but most asked questions, listened to my proposed options, and did nothing but list other novels, TV shows, and movies where that plot arc had occurred.

There's an important thing here most people do not realize. As a writer you must know this to be true: THERE ARE NO NEW STORIES. Every single plot imaginable (in general terms) has been written. It's been done! No, that's also been done! That too! Stop listing plot ideas, trust me, it's been done!
 


 
Does this mean you can't enjoy both Harry potter and Star  Wars? Fuck no!


 
It's true. Just as with painting every subject has been painted. Just as with painters the true talent lies in how you produce the new work. I don't care who already wrote it, as long as it's not a definitive classic, go ahead and tell that story with your own voice, your own twists and turns, make it your bitch! Even if it is a definitive classic just make sure yours is good too. The only time people insist on pointing out how similar two things are is when they see a large disparity between the two, either in profit or quality.

The Tournament Series is being re-edited and posted slowly (there are 10 stories right now 2 are up and I should post the third today)  and in short deal with 8 people fighting to the death to save humanity. What's that, you say? Sounds kind of like Highlander? No shit, Sherlock. People competing to be a savior? From King Arthur to Hunger Games, it's been done! Why can't I do it too? Did I mention mine involves polytheistic gods and reads like a space western only there is no interstellar travel? It's a complex analysis of good and evil more than drama. Can you see where it differs?



 
So you're saying Star Trek, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica are all just space operas? Smeggin; hell, this show will never work1


 
The point is that one of the most common comments you'll here from any Derp or Derpina is "Didn't _________ do that?" Your answer should be "YES! But just because you once fucked in the missionary position doesn't mean you should never do it again. Just because you like grilled cheese doesn't man you should only make it one way you whole life." 

Sadly, try that and you'll get a semi-blank look and the statement of "That's not the same thing!" Oh, really? Try replying with "Well just because Degas painted some awesome ballerinas does that mean no one else ever should?" If you get a blank look at that immediately ask them if they ever read two Sue Grafton novels, or two Dean Koontz. If they answer yes, slap them upside the head, let them know you'll never take literary advice from them and remind them those plots are the same thing over and over. If they enjoyed it, why can't the rest of us do the same thing?

Don't get depressed as a writer at this thought. Hominids have been speaking since Homo Hablis and by the time the Magdalenians rolled around every story had been told. Have we ever grown tired of stories? Nope. One of the biggest sellers is romance novels, and those are nothing more than retelling the story of how a man and woman fell in love. There are infinite ways to tell that story.You can add numerous sub-plots of mystery or adventure, and your protagonists can be any amalgamation of unlimited traits.



 
Imagine a world in which a studio exec said "But that's the same thing as Raiders of the Lost Ark! We can't do that!"


 
Your talent as a writer comes from your ability to dream up new scenarios, new characters, and telling the same story in a new way. In the end, the correct response to someone questioning "Didn't ________ do that already?" is "So what?"