When you're brainstorming ideas, chances are you'll end up coming up with a variation of something that's already been used. Sometimes, it's intentional, a homage to or a parody of whatever work you're referencing. Other times, you'll think up something that feels refreshing and original…only to find that someone beat you to the punch in making said idea public.
Because of this, I find it hard to come up with and then actually get to use certain ideas like character names or fanfiction premises.
One of my earlier brainstorms a couple years back (sometime in the earlier years of the new millennium, I think) that never went anywhere was a concept for a creature based on the usagi ringo (apple rabbit). Since I couldn't come up with any pleasing designs for this fictional animal, I decided to put the idea on hold. After a while, I forgot about my character concept due to life, school, and my other projects. However, I was swiftly reminded of my old idea years later when I saw a new Pokemon named Victini that had come out in 2010. I hadn't been keeping up with the Pokemon episodes for ages, but I did occasionally like taking a look at whatever new designs the creators had come up with. After all, living in Japan, it's not uncommon for me to see Pokemon-related merchandise in the city or on the TV. Naturally, I get curious. Anyway, seeing the Victini design made me wonder what I might have come up with had I continued to work on my idea. I'm not sure if I would have been able to come up with a design as cute as what the Pokemon creators did, but I'd had the idea for quite a while before Victini even came out. Or were the creators already brainstorming the idea around the same time I was? Which of us came up with the concept first?
I also have a hard time coming up with a unique username. I keep wanting to base my pseudonym on some clever pun or on my favorite things. However, a lot of other people do the same thing and have similar interests, which leads to a lot of the good names being already taken. It's sad and a little frustrating because I really had my heart set on some of those choices. I could, of course, simply add some numbers or extra characters to my username to differentiate it from the other person's username, but it feels weird having almost the exact same name as someone else. It's like having three Rachels or two Erics in the same room. (I've actually had that happen to me at one of my last schools.)
I suppose one of my biggest worries when it comes to actually making my ideas public is whether or not I have to ask for permission from another person with a similar idea to use the idea in my own projects. I mean, I didn't actually base my idea on theirs but rather on generally known concepts that a lot of other people probably make use of in their own ideas. Does it still count as my "original" idea if I didn't take anything from the other person's similar idea despite the similarities? What if I don't ask the other person if I can use the idea and then people start saying that I stole the idea from the other person? I'm always trying to be careful about plagiarism, so the last thing I want is someone saying I'm a thief. I suppose it would be safer to ask just in case…
When we imagine things, we often draw from our knowledge of the world and from preexisting stories. We take what we know, take it apart, and reassemble it into something new. Various permutations can arise from this process. But every once in a while, at least two of these permutations have so many common elements that they're near-identical.
Originality is certainly something to aspire to, but is breaking the mold is easier said than done?