Sometimes as a writer you get an idea which fascinates you, so you turn it over in your head to try and find the best way to explore it, but there are so many parts to it that it is hard to pick just one. I think what most of us do at this point is follow the one that stands out the most, and release the other ideas back into the collective unconscious for someone else to discover.
But sometimes you can’t let them go, so you end up writing two (or more) stories with the same starting premise. I have read two John Saul books which had experiments on school children, so I know other writers do it. One of the girls in my writers group has three stories with the same idea; a kid’s version, a young adult version and a dark adult version. All three work, so I can see why she’s done it, but it does beg the question; can you put all of them out into the world?
I’ve always had the attitude of either only sending my favourite out, and keeping the other(s) just for me, or send them all out, and whichever gets published first forces the retirement of the others. I don’t know why I have this attitude, after all, if the stories were different enough for me to write them, then they should be different enough to publish.
I guess I keep thinking back to the John Saul books. In my head they became the one novel, and I really struggled to remember one separate from the other. When I was reading the second novel I kept drawing in background story from the first that didn’t fit, so I kept confusing myself.
I would love to know the experience of others, have you ever had two same-premise stories? If so, did you write them both? If so, did you send them both out? If so, did you cop any flack?