1. Lmc71775
    Offline

    Lmc71775 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    26

    The Risk in Swapping Stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lmc71775, Aug 12, 2010.

    On another site their is this beta exchange. It is were you hook up with another writer and exchanges stories, first of all to have someone read your whole manuscript chapter by chapter and revise it along the way per the suggestions and edits that you want to be put in your novel idea.

    I swapped stories with someone recently. Her giving me her first chapter and me giving her mine.

    My worry is her stealing my story. Her suggestions and edits were pretty much rewriting my first chapter for me. Right away, I was worried. REG FLAG. She mentioned she was a copyeditor. Now she is really nice, don't get me wrong. But I certainly did NOT want someone to write my own story better. It's like I didn't even write it at all.

    I don't want to continue with this. I am afraid she is going to snatch my idea for her own in her own rewrites of my work.

    My question is, should I be afraid? Or am I overreacting? Are there really people out there that steal other peoples work on the internet?

    Like I said, luckily it was only my first chap. I am certainly not going to send more.

    Any thoughts on this anyone? Has anyone gone through this before?
     
  2. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's always a risk, but I think it is rare that it happens. I've participated in numerous email exchanged in the past and never had it happen.

    Some people critique that way - by rewriting what you've done. At least, they think they're critiquing. It's a very poor way of going about it, in my view, but that's the approach some take.

    Without some evidence that she's going to steal your work, I wouldn't be concerned. And I don't think re-writing your chapter is evidence that she intends to steal it.
     
  3. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I agree with Steerpike. I always keep a copy of the email I sent with the attachment in my sent box just in case no idea why lol.

    Keep your original and only correct what you want. I had an English teacher like that in my last year of High School I hated it my stories were no longer my own.
     
  4. erik martin
    Offline

    erik martin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    Personally, I feel that you are overreacting. If she was planning on stealing your work, I don't think she would have done a thorough edit for you. Frankly, I feel that you were probably quite lucky to have gotten someone in the exchange with her skills. Editors for hire cost a pretty penny and it sounded like she was editing at the same time as doing a general critique for free as an exchange for you doing the same for her?
     
  5. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Agreed. Why would a thief put that much work into it. A thief has other things in mind. And if it is but one chapter, relax. Especially if it is the first rough draft of said chapter. You are bound to have a rather different chapter at the end of your rewrite.

    And as for stealing ideas? All ideas are stolen in one way or another. There is nothing new under the sun.
     
  6. DanielCross
    Offline

    DanielCross Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    I dont think i've heard it (plagiarism) ever happening with a forum or online writer's exchange. Anyone know of a case?
     
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,915
    Likes Received:
    10,108
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    It has happened. We have banned more than one member from this very forum for posting works they lifted from other forums.

    We have an absolute ZERO tolerance for this kind of thing. ZERO!
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Most of the plagiarism we see is petty, stupid bids for attention, nothing more. I only know of one case where someone was trying to steal writing to actually try and publish it, and that was someone with a pretty extensive history of plagiarism; that person has had to change names at least once, having been blacklisted.

    Plagiarists are generally a pretty stupid lot. Considering the risk to their reputation, and the difficulty of actually finding and recognizing something publishable, they have to be stupid to think they will get away with it.

    With proven money-maker authors, the risk is higher, due to the big money at stake, but such authors have typically learned how to protect themselves adequately.
     
  9. Lmc71775
    Offline

    Lmc71775 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    26
    So how should I proceed with this person, then? I want feedback on my story as a whole. (my rough draft is 35K which I was hoping to making 40 or more) But I am still leary about it.

    She seems really nice and a person that wouldn't do that. But she is a copyeditor for a living. I am just some pee-on. And she seemed to really groove on the story too. Her's well, let's just say it's not my cup a tea.
     
  10. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I frequently offer suggestions when I give feedback, and I"ve had friends do the same for me. Not feeding ideas because we can't think of our own, but just helping each other elaborate and build up the stories. It's just coming up with ideas together, I don't see it as a big deal--after all, theyr'e the ultimate writers and deciders of their own stories, as am I with mine.

    Just remember that it's YOUR story, not hers, and just because she may give lots of ideas and changes you don't want to use, doesn't mean that you have to use them.

    If you don't like her story much, give her ideas on what would make it better. It seems like she's doing the same for yours. :)
     
  11. Lmc71775
    Offline

    Lmc71775 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    26
    Thanks Mallory. Yes, I have done that for her too. In my own way I would suggest rewording a phrase here and there, show her technical mistakes. And then write a page or two on my thoughts of what I read. I definitely devoted a few hours to critiquing in depth and she really appreciated it. So I am doing my part. NOT rewriting it for her though, come on. That is just wrong. I can see here and there, but NOT the whole entire 7 page chapter. That must have taken a bit of time and effort, and I totally appreciated it. But something inside me really got worried. What if she does that to each chapter and keeps it for her own? I don't know Adam about this person. It could be a man for all I know.

    Anyways, I am going to go with my gut feeling and only rely on people I trust. I wouldn't tell her I feel this way, cause thats just wrong. I'll just politely tell her I changed my mind about sending her more. I'll even offer to continue feedback on hers. That's the least I can do.

    I just want to say thanks to everyone on helping me make a decision.
     
  12. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,352
    Likes Received:
    2,896
    Location:
    Boston
    Quite honestly she doesn't seem like a very good editor. Good editors find ways to bring out the author's voice. Completely rewriting a piece is not the way to accomplish this. I think you're doing the right thing by choosing not to send her more of your work.
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i work with writers all day, every day, have helped/edited/critiqued the writings of thousands annually, for quite a few years... and while i will often rewrite a small portion of a page [only at their request], to show them how it can be done better, i'd never rewrite a whole chapter... unless, as i've done only a rare few times, i'm rewriting a whole book for someone whose skills are not up to publishable minimums...

    you're lucky this woman was willing to do so much for you, but i agree that redoing a whole chapter was going over the line... however, i also agree that she can't have any ulterior motive, as one can't submit/sell a single chapter to an agent/publisher...
     
  14. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    Overreacting, definitely.

    Many lawsuits are brought against authors each year, accusing them of plagiarism. The vast, vast majority of them are bull puckey. Many people think that their ideas are ridiculously original, and don't realize that it's the execution and the actual writing quality that counts.

    I mean, I myself have been in writing classes, both at MIT and locally. (I took one for fun at a community college a while ago.) In the junior college one, many many people weren't very good at describing, well, the things they were trying to describe. The prose was stilted, there were misspellings, I caught ambiguous and unclear phrasings...

    I'm no copyeditor, just a kid with a lot of reading under my belt. And sometimes the pages I returned were marked up so badly I had to use three colors of ink for clarity.

    Not that I'm trying to insult you or say you're bad. I'm just saying that she's a copyeditor, and is used to correcting errors in professionally published books. It stands to reason that you, who are still aspiring, will have a few more errors, leading to the sort of comment-laden returned copy that you got. I mean, I'm picky enough as it is; I'm sure I'd be even worse if I did it for a job -- but that's what you want, isn't it? For someone to mark up all the places you could change stuff to make it easier to see, or to understand.

    Of course, she could just be one of those people who wants to rewrite passages their way to make it sound more like something they'd write. And I've been occasionally guilty of this, too. (Usually in dialogue, where they'll put something that sounds horribly unreal and I'll re-write it in a way that sounds more like "actual conversation" to my ear.) But even in this instance, you don't need to worry about her stealing your stuff.
     
  15. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Lmc, what exactly do you mean by she's "re-writing your chapter?" There's several types of feedback you can give to someone -- you can point out the SPAG mistakes, and then you can offer suggestions on ways to enhance the plot, further develop the characters, etc. The latter is what I thought you meant, and that's often what my friends and I do on each other's stories.

    How is she rewriting your whole chapter? I'm just not sure exactly what you mean by this. Is she just writing the exact same thing you wrote in what she thinks is a better voice, or what?
     
  16. Lmc71775
    Offline

    Lmc71775 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    26
    Mal, She rearranged everything and added her own lines in. It creeped me out. I mean, the whole darn chapter?

    Maia, I can see why you've done it and that you worked like this for years. Remember I only met her online just days prior to this, were as you've worked with your writers for months or years maybe. You know what I mean?
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    From what I've seen, Maia also gives reasons for every change.
     
  18. Nervous1st
    Offline

    Nervous1st Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Australia
    LMC -

    I agree you're overreacting, but at the same time, if it doesn't feel right, then don't send any more work. There's not much she's going to be able to do with only one chapter.

    Where online did you meet this person? A member of another forum or an advertisement of some sort?

    The only thing I can suggest is to save your money and put it towards a editor IRL, so that you can meet with them face to face or see credentials etc. Otherwise, why don't you ask someone here that you 'know' better. I've had Maia look over my work before and even though it was only a portion, it helped me to fix my overall writing.

    Good luck.
     
  19. JessaNova
    Offline

    JessaNova Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Florida
    I wouldn't necessarily bring it up to her by telling her you think she's going to steal your work, just let her know you wanted suggestions... now for her to rewrite everything in her own words. I kind of think when someone tries to overpower your work, they think they're a better writer than you. Seeing that just makes the person cocky.

    Just find another writer to pair up with, if you can.
    I don't think she's going to try to steal the idea. I've done that where I'll rewrite something I think would sound better a certain way. At most, it inspires me to write in that style and fuels me with ideas... but wouldn't copy the storyline and deliver it word by word. I certainly wouldn't ever try to publish it.

    You have nothing to worry about.

    But say the person isn't cocky at all and is very self-conscious about their own stuff, maybe they are hoping for the same treatment back by you indulging in her material and giving her suggestions.
     
  20. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Lmc, that is kind of creepy, although I do agree with everyone else on here.

    If you want, you can send me your stuff and I'll be a dedicated novel-critiquer in an UNcreepy way! PM me if you want and I'll give you my email.
     
  21. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i only meant i've been doing this [mentoring/helping] for years... and though i do work with some over months or even years in a few cases, oftentimes brand new mentees will ask me to show them how a section can be written better, after i give them detailed notes on what's wrong with their writing... so i do rewrite a paragraph or two for writers i've 'met' only recently...

    however, if this lady rewrote an entire chapter of yours without being asked to do so, that would definitely be beyond what any mentor or editor should do, imo...

    yup!... i sure do... often to the writer's dismay... but being thanked for it [eventually], 99.99% of the time...
     

Share This Page