1. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Does this ever happen to you?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by bluebell80, May 28, 2009.

    When a spouse, significant other, relative, friend...is discussing some topic, and then come out with a "I thought of writing a book about that." Do you even discuss that idea?

    My back story here to this is such a situation. My hubby, albeit is a smart man who could possibly write a book, and I were talking about something...a current event and a "what if" scenario of the future if that were to play out "this way." And he tells me that he thought of writing a book about said subject. It was kind of cool at first because we were both on the same page with the idea.

    Things went down hill when I stated my opinion on how said story might be written. He started describing to me the idea for the plot line, and my response was "Well wouldn't it be better if... fill in with my idea."

    He then got defensive, like I was saying his idea was crap, but I didn't actually say that, I just had a differing of opinion about where to start the storyline, less backstory, more immediate action.

    Now, my husband, smart as he is, hasn't read a book in about 10 years (fiction anyway.) While in high school and during our first year or so together, he did read a lot. But, it was a very narrow genre of realistic style military fiction, One Shot, One Kill comes to mind as his favorite. I've never read this style of book, but it does have a lot of narrative summery in it (not a kind I like.)

    Of course, my husband's idea would be similar to this, more of an overview of a story, not a ton of characterization, and lots of action and suspense.

    I hate to come off as a know-it-all when I talk to him about writing, but that seems to be how I come off. And the arrogance to this next statement almost makes me feel ashamed -- While he was talking I couldn't help myself from thinking "I could write this better than you could." Wow, I know, egotistical right?! :eek:

    Is it better to just sit and keep your mouth shut when someone close to you starts talking about writing a book. A book you are pretty sure they will never writing. And in thinking that, might you pilfer their storyline at some point in the future?

    I can imagine if I wrote the story, my husband would be irritated...lol...especially if I sold it!

    Ethically, is it really wrong to take an initial plotline, and setting idea and create something with it, if you didn't come up with it alone?

    Just my rambling thoughts while drinking my cappuccino.
     
  2. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your response really began with "well,wouldn't it be better if..." then I can see why he may have been offended. It's one thing to offer a different idea, it's another to preface that different idea by saying that it's better than his idea.

    Just because the style of book he likes/would write in isn't something you enjoy doesn't mean that your style of writing would necessarily be better. You would just enjoy it more. Maybe part of the reason he got so upset was because he could tell that you felt that way?

    I don't think you should feel like you have to keep your mouth shut when someone is talking about writing a book. I would just be a little cautious about how you present your opinions. Personally, if I had been talking to you instead of your husband, the conversation wouldn't have bothered me, but some people are really sensitive about that kind of thing.

    As for the taking the initial plotline, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If someone mapped out the entire plot and you were like "hey, that sounds cool...yoink!" that's one thing, but having a conversation about a cool idea for a story doesn't license anyone to exclusive rights to that idea.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You could always ask him if he'd mind you toying with his idea, possibly using it for a book. You could name him in the acknowledgements, of course.

    In truth, an idea is not copyrightable. Ideas come from all around us. Some take root and blossom, and most of the time, the other person would probably feel flattered that their idea germinated a novel.

    But if it's going to result in domestic strife, legal rights mean nothing. Still, if he lives with a writer, he can probably appreciate the ginormous gulf between a concept and a finished book, and how much work goes into bridging that gulf.
     
  4. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Well, he told me what I write is fluff, if that is any indication as to what he thinks of my writing.

    I don't really think he has any clue about how much it takes to actually churn out 60k to 150k words in novel form. I have to laugh when he alludes to that, and usually it is met with a snarky "Well, then let's see you write one."
    Then the following excuse of, "I don't have time like you." comes about... and then I drop it, because there is no point in having a tiff over something so trivial.

    That's what I ended up doing this last time. I just said "drop it." and ended the conversation, but I did go back and write out a brief summery of the idea I came up with, loosely based on what we were talking about.

    I've encountered this with other people too, who think writing is such an "easy" thing that anyone could do it without much skill or know how.

    HIddennovelist,

    Your right. I do think I approached it a little more...uh, in his face, than I should have. If I had prefaced with "this is what I would do" it probably would have been a smoother conversation...at least until he commented about my writing being fluff, which annoyed me.
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    If I think the person is serious, I say, "Why not? Go for it!"

    If I don't think the person is serious, I just try to listen to their idea and make an effort (if effort is needed) to tell them how interesting it is.

    I've been through an experience similar to yours with my husband who's a great storyteller, and a fiction reader (but not a writer). I have no trouble at all with nonfiction topics my husband thinks up (and we write a lot of business-related promotional stuff that way), but I cannot for the life of me write "his" fiction (and I've tried). Has something to do with how and why I write fiction. As an artform, "fiction" is a very personal thing. My own skills aren't up to the commercial end of it--i.e., turning someone else's well-plotted storyline into a saleable (or even readable) product. Give me the finished draft and I can probably improve it. But I can't write fiction unless it's my own.

    I think you could probably make a pretty good case for each of you doing it your own way. There's no real good reason why both stories couldn't turn out completely different and equally good (no reason other than that you likely know a good deal more about writing your story than he will once he begins his own).

    BTW, there's nothing sacred about ideas--no matter whose they are. But when it comes to a marriage (or even a friendship), you might have to think twice. My husband knows his limits, and I know my own pretty well; so he tells his stories and I listen to them and even enjoy them. Then I go and write my own thing because that's just how it is, and we both know it.

    Giving someone else (especially your husband!) credit for the idea, well, that's what the acknowledgements and dedications are for.

    P.S.: What Cogito said.
    P.P.S.: What Hiddennovelist said.
     
  6. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    I wish I knew who said this: "When my friends tell me that they're going to write a book someday, I say to them, 'Oh yeah, I want to do a little brain surgery someday.'" Kind of obnoxious, but funny. :p Seriously, there is always going to be people who don't get it. If we as writers are going to get along without winding up emotional basketcases, I think it's best to have a sense of humor about things. If someone is convinced that writing a book is like writing a check, laugh and let them think that. I second hiddennovelist--it's all in how you present things, and it's in how you percieve them too.
     
  7. Mercurial
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    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do that all the time.
    The novel I'm working on right now came directly from someone commenting on the fact that people go to ridiculous lengths to hide their secrets. And my short story came from a game a friend of mine used to play and talk incessantly about.
    Most everything else that is not an essay stems directly from my life experiences.

    Coming up with your own ideas is totally overrrated. :p ;)
     
  8. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm working on a scene right now that was just inspired by my youth pastor's preaching. *shrug* I do it all the time.
     
  9. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would have annoyed me, too. That's a pretty rude thing to say. :(
     
  10. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Yep, that's what I thought. But, then that is my hubby, kind of rude and slightly offensive. Good thing we get along in other areas, otherwise...he have a foot print on his backside.
     
  11. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    God, you're a lot nicer than I am. Joel would have a footprint in his backside if he said something like that regardless of how many areas we get along in.

    You're supposed to support your partner, aren't you? How is telling you that he thinks your writing is fluff being supportive? That's just mean...
     

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