I was just putting the finishing touches on a query letter when I checked the mail and found the latest issue of the magazine I was about to query. Feeling pretty confident that my article idea was a great fit for this publication, I did a quick scan of the contents page...

And saw that another writer beat me to it, probably about six months ago. Le sigh.

Has that ever happened to you? Were you sitting there thinking that it would be really neat to write a children's book about, I dunno, wizard school? With all the magazines and websites and books and other ways that writers can share their ideas with the world, how on earth do we know if our great idea hasn't been done before?

Heck, some literary folk didn't even recognize the work of Jane Austin in David Lassman's experiment where he sent out thinly disguised works by Austin to unsuspecting publishers. Read more about it here.

So how do you know if you have the sliced bread of all ideas? You don't. All you can really do is put your own spin on it. While dear JK used wizard school as a colourful backdrop for the battle between good and evil, my version would have had a drama class, school trips to the other wizard schools and more dances. Ooh, and more scenes with Snape. Oh, and the books would have been told from Ginny's perspective.

Same initial idea, but totally different.

So I guess that's what I need to focus on: delving deeper into topics to find what I want to explore about them and see what hasn't been said already.

Ugh. That just sounds like more work, doesn't it?

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