So a friend of mine keeps sending me recipes. She eats very healthy and has a picky family. So when she finds something good that's been tested and approved by her clan, she shares. Last night I made a ham and spinach quiche, except I didn't have any spinach and substituted broccoli. WOW. It was awesome!
I've also made lemon cupcakes with raspberry cream frosting, gypsy soup (my favorite) and Portuguese green soup. It's amazing what you can do with a good recipe.
Which of course, is my segue into writing. A good book has a simple enough recipe. Tasty beginning, flavorful middle, tangy ending. You can add as much spice as you like, and if you've made it to the best of your ability and your readers like it, they'll most likely be back for a second helping of your writing. But though everyone might make a great quiche, we all fiddle with the recipe. Some add broccoli, others put in less cheese. And the actual spices that go into the dish vary from chef to chef.
Circ books, and the reviewer made a comment that I'd lifted the story from Lora Leigh's breed series--which I love. I usually don't respond to reviews, but nods to copying had me rushing to correct her. Nicely, I might add, I told her that my Circs (shifters) might have some similarities, but that my book had been started years ago (in the 90s), before the breed series first released. And considering I'd only read my first Lora Leigh book two years ago and written my first Circ book in 2009, I didn't see the conflict. I continued to describe my own background in the USMC and family in the Jersey area as my inspiration to write. I would never mind comparisons of my work to Lora Leigh's, but I refuse to be called a copycat. And that's not even getting into all the differences between the Breed series and my Circ series.
But it's all relative.
Take genre. Think of a shifter romance as the recipe. Some will choose wolves, others cat, and others nonhuman or nonanimal. There can be a teaspoon of funny or a tablespoon of sobriety. No two recipes will be alike, unless you have plagiarism and blatant copying at hand.
The bottom line is that tons of people might have a similar idea, but take way different paths in developing it.
When I submitted to Samhain for their feline shifter anthology back in 2008, I was excited to try something different. I love exercises like this, where people take one simple idea and run with it. My submission was accepted, and the Cougar Falls books were born. But of the six stories, not one was alike except for the fact that the romances revolved around cat shifters.
Same recipe with multiple variations. And they say variety is the spice of life. Too true.
How many vampire books are out there, yet Twilight hit it big? How many angsty YA books, yet The Hunger Games was huge? And if you want dystopian fiction, just walk down the aisle of your local bookstore and check the multitude of supernatural fodder.
Just remember, it might all be from the same recipe, but the variations are endless.