When someone tells me their story, I often reply with, “Oh, have you read [x]?” To which they often scowl, curse me out for ruining their idea, and storm off, never to tell me another idea.
Often times, I tell them an idea that’s thousands of years old. I think it’s exciting to take from old stories and use them as your own, with some updates.
A friend of mine wants to write a novel based on Satan’s view point. I referenced the Screwtape Letters. She then says she wants to make it through the Bible, and I reference Paradise Lost. At this point she is despairing, as it’s all been done before. But that’s the thing, it really has all been done before.
My own current novel is a mix of religious wars, such as the crusades, alongside the Bible and Arabian Nights. I proudly step forward and admit these are my inspirations. We should all admit that we have inspirations and that our ideas come from somewhere else, somewhere that already has done what we are attempting. But they didn’t do it like we are.
So when I tell you I’ve seen it before, and I’m really excited about that, it’s because I can’t wait to see how you tell the story. At the end of the day, no one is telling an original anyway.