Every writer—if you’ve written long enough—knows this moment: the moment where you’re watching a movie, or perhaps just reading a book, and there it is. Your story. Your idea. Your character. Your dialogue. Not that it’s been stolen from you, but you both lucked on the same source of inspiration; they just beat you to it.
For me, it was a situation—a humorous moment that two characters found themselves in, which led to very awkward dialogue that made the situation even funnier. And I had imagined it all. Some contextual details aside, it was more or less the same scene, with quite similar dialogue, though with a slightly different conclusion. My story—almost my words. And now I couldn’t use them. Or I could, but it would forever be in the shadow of the previous work, which would lead to a profoundly guilty conscience.