It is frequently mentioned that there are a limited number of ‘basic’ plots for fiction – although the number is disputed, with some sources claiming as few as six and others nearer thirty-six. This combined with aspiring writers being influenced by their favourite authors’ books, makes it hard to know if your own work has enough originality to it.
The fact is, it is impossible to write fiction without being influenced by works you’ve enjoyed, you would have to live in a vacuum not to be, and what you wrote would be… dull. Even then, you’d probably use a favourite word, so ya know, impossible to escape. I (Loz) personally blame Joss Whedon, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, and David Eddings for my adoration of the noir-esque and kick ass females.
Whereas, I (Michelle) am probably more influenced by Tolkien, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Michael Crichton – Tolkien, in particular, responsible for my love of ‘quest’ fiction and endless notes for building and creating whole worlds and lands.
Influences help to fuel our ideas and help us to learn how to craft stories, but in this field so heavy in influences and rich in history, the problem will always be originality. The only real solution is to watch yourself, if you find yourself leaning too heavily on one influence or thinking ‘oooh that’s like so and so’, stop.
Whatever you write someone will be able to cite an example of another writer, but hopefully there will be enough of a distinct voice and original aspects that will overshadow the influences.