I feel like I keep reading about the topic of people accusing writers of stealing or copying ideas from other books, movies, etc. Now I'm not so fond of this debate because I tend to think that ideas are in a constant recycling program. I mean really, what ideas are 100% original these days? Regardless of how fresh something seems if you really start to examine it you're sure to find similarities. But who really cares? I don't. If a story is good I could care less about the ways its like another story. Unless it's too extreme of course. I don't think the gate keepers of the publishing world are too fond of letting copy cats pass through.
In my own personal writing experience I've done my best to steer clear of any similarities to other books. The problem is what happens when you have some amazing idea but know it's been done already. I'm not talking about anything major but more of the smaller stuff, like say an amusement park as part of the story. I recently read one of the best books ever and it has some pretty sweet roller coaster moments. Last night we made our annual journey to a somewhat local amusement park that's in a wooded area so there are trees all over the place around the rides providing some very dark corners and paths. Spooky with the whole carnival music blaring from the carousel. Of course I was bombarded with ideas for my new WIP. Does this mean I'm copying? Well heck no. I bet there are hundreds if not thousands of books in print that include scenes at an amusement park.
My struggle is with over thinking whether an element (thankfully never a plot) is original enough. I get too paranoid that it feels too much like something out there, especially when it's a book I already love. I guess that's part of why I didn't read as much as usual while I was in the intensive part of writing my first draft. I hate the idea of being too influenced by other work at that moment. A prime example - my revisions after reading The Hunger Games all ended up in present tense! *gasp* Apparently it's not always a case of ideas, it might be tense or style or some other element of writing.
On the flip side there is a lot to benefit from other writers. We can learn how to write better by reading books written by authors who are successful at the things we strive to create - natural dialogue, plot twists, true to life descriptions. So it looks like my new philosophy will be to say "to hell with it" and write whatever comes out without thinking for one second whether any aspect of it's already been done. Because odds are it has. The key is to stay true to your writing voice and to just let it flow without worrying, in the end it will all come together. That's what revisions are for.
Anyone else have input on this topic? Ever have a fabulous idea only to discover a new book coming out is similar, too similar?