Had an idea for a short story yesterday that was somewhat similar to another short story I started several years ago (but was trying to find a way to finish). It's similar in theme (revenge) and characters... which made me worry a bit that it is *too* similar.

Even when characterization differentiates plenty between stories, do you ever worry that repeating a story's theme, outcome, or other element is a symptom of lack of range and/or originality? What do you do about it - write a story in a different genre? Do writing exercises? Take a break? Something else?

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I imagine once you've been writing long enough, some themes are going to repeat themselves. And if you never finished the first story, I sure don't think it should stop you from writing this new one. Maybe that 'theme' or idea stuck with you and popped up now because you didn't finish it the first time. Give it a go and see if it works out this time.
If it is for a short story, why not take a shot at it? It could be a Rashômon-type of experience, where you come up with a completely new, if not improved, different viewpoint. Personally, I find that I have to write a story or an outline in a different genre, just to change my mindset every once in awhile. Writing crime and nothing but crime can make Jack a psycho-boy.
It seems logical to assume that as you grow as a writer and person, your perceptions will change, as well as how you choose to describe them. It's probably best not to make a career of writing the story over and over again, but is it really the same story, once your evolution is figured in?

Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen have both pretty much copped to writing the same stories repeatedly, with different character names. No one - including me - is growing tired of them any time soon.
I have to second that. Hammett was notorious for the same behavior. Filmmakers are even prone to this sometimes, too - Michael Mann's heist movie HEAT was very similar to a TV movie he'd made about 15 years before, right down to the classic Pacino-DeNiro coffee house scene. You're no less of an artist because of this. Just means you're trying to make it better.
Chandler was accused of this. Apparently, THE BIG SLEEP was rehashing of two earlier short stories of his, which I believe ran in BLACK MASK. Didn't seem to hurt him in the long run.


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