1. WriterWoodsy
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    WriterWoodsy Member

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    Too paranoid about intellectual property to receive reviews...

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by WriterWoodsy, Apr 17, 2012.

    This probably sounds really silly but the people that I think will offer the truly helpful constructive criticism are all writers themselves and I get a little bit nervous that they'll take my ideas... I'm not saying they will purposefully steal my story but you know how you watch a movie or read a book and how it can inspire you?
    I know there are no new ideas but when I was writing my first novel someone released a story with the same premise (for the record it was "The Enemy" by Charlie Higson) and it just really disheartened me and I've never been able to pick up writing that novel again.

    Does anyone else have this problem, how do I get over it?
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    where the mind is without fear...
    No, you are not being paranoid because it is possible that your story might get stolen from an online forum like this. It is not a good idea to post lengthy piece, just post a small portion and ask for specific criticism.
     
  3. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    If you want general advice on the quality of your writing or specific aspects of it, you could write a little something purely for that purpose, so you can post it without fear. If you want feedback on how your actual novel is going, I'd suggest finding some likeminded friends or people you can trust to send it to directly, without publishing it anywhere.
     
  4. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Your ideas are important to you because of your own personal history. You experienced something in life that moved you to write about it. While others might enjoy your ideas, they are not going to be as inspired by them in the same way because they don't have the same life experiences. If you give your MS to a jerk who intentionally steals your ideas to make money off of it, they will fail at writing that story as good as you because they don't have a genuine muse. If you give it to someone who doesn't intentionally steal your ideas, they will either change some aspect of their current story, or else take your ideas and go a completely different direction with it - either way it will not resemble your story at all.
     
  5. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can sympathise, something similar happened to me. And the actual stories weren't similar at all, but the premise was nearly identical (theme was different, and obviously the events and characters were different too). It is a scary situation, regardless of whether it is a coincidence, deliberate or accidental theft. Nobody wants to feel like their heartfelt idea is a copy. It helps to keep in mind though, if it's just a similar premise or a character, but obviously different stories, it is not going to affect your story's success. There are tons of stories out there with similarities, often even deliberate, so all that matters in the end is, have you written a compelling narrative? If yes, then nobody will seriously bother you about similar premise and suchlike (keeping in mind that every successful person has haters to, and no, their opinions don't matter, just ignore them.)

    In any case, my rule of thumb is, I do not publish anything on line that I intend to publish traditionally. I most certainly don't reveal the details of the ideas I am developing.
    It is a difficult situation if you can't think of anyone who would be a willing critic, someone you know and trust, like a friend or a relative. Sometimes, you can come across people on the internet and end up with a trustworthy writing buddy, but just posting pages and pages of your draft for all to see is in my opinion not a good idea. A tiny snippet yes, if it's representative of your writing, and see if people point out any glaringly obvious issues, but that's as far as I would go.
     
  6. John Cleary
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    John Cleary Member

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    Simply write snippets and not the out line of your entire short story/book.:)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, no two people will develop a story idea into the same story!... so, worrying about your 'idea' being 'stolen' is a waste of energy you'd make better use of by writing...

    and full pieces of work should never be posted anywhere on the internet, if you hope to have them published some day, since if they're available to be read for free, why would anyone pay you for them?... which is why you should only post a brief excerpt, if you want feedback...

    since human brains operate much the same in everyone, it will often happen that more than one writer will get a similar idea for a story at the same time... which is why you'll find numerous novels and movies being so similar in plot lines... but they're all different in some way, which is why they all get published and produced anyway...

    so stop being paranoid about any of that and simply write the best story/novel/script/whatever you can and if it's good enough and you're lucky enough, you'll see it published/produced some day...
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I disagree and also find it rather strange that anyone would equate a general question to "not writing". Why say "rather than worry... write"? Maybe the OP is writing, he probably is, but is just asking a question related to showing work to others before it is published.

    I don't think it is appropriate to claim that ideas can never be stolen. Of course they can be stolen, and if someone rightfully feels reluctant to reveal details to their plot before the book is published, they should not be told they are being silly for worrying. Maybe some ideas aren't worth stealing, but more intricate ideas especially when they form a central plot point (like some scientific aspect in sci fi) can most definitely appeal to other writers lacking in inspiration and ethics. It happens. The fact that someone else will write a different story is then irrelevant. If such an important and original plot point is repeated in two different books, the question on everyone's lips will be "Who thought of this first, and who stole it?"
     
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  9. WriterWoodsy
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    WriterWoodsy Member

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    The OP is most certainly writing :)

    I know similar ideas don't necessarily develop into the same story lines but look how much flack the "The Hunger Games" has got on the internet for being a "copy" of "Battle Royale" even though the resemblance is probably entirely coincidental and they're certainly very different stories.

    My original premise was "all adults turn into zombies" and a book came out with that exact premise and it just seems too narrow and specific to have two different authors working on similar series within a similar time frame. I've never read the series but I imagine the way Higson has developed the story is probably different to the plot I had as I know his is set in London and mine is set in rural Australia.

    I have previously had short stories published so I like to think my standard of writing is palatable, I'm just really nervous about the quality of the novels I'm working on because they just feel so much bigger than anything I've done. I guess I'll stick with the friends and family proof reading for quality control/ feedback. My manuscript that's closest to completion is a good six months away from being finished anyway so this is probably a bit premature.

    Thanks for everything, I'm really enjoying this forum so far.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree, "The Hunger Games" vs "Battle Royale" (as was Harry Potter vs "The Worst Witch") is a good example of how heavily a book will be scrutinised once it comes out. Personally, I am quite sure that those earlier works inspired the current ones, but the issue of copyright doesn't apply because there are sufficient differences. Still, I lost a lot of respect for JK Rowling once I saw the comparisons with "The Worst Witch" and I never read Harry Potter because I didn't trust the writer.

    I am in a similar position, I have the proof my earlier works were well received which gives me confidence that at least I am able to write reasonably well, but this is the first time I am writing something so big, and it felt scary and confusing, the logistics part, how you get from the idea to the finished manuscript. But I found several books to be really helpful, and after I read them all, I have much better idea not only about how to write the damn thing, but also how to instruct the beta readers, in order to get most helpful feedback from them.

    The books I always recommend are "The Hero's Journey" by Vogler, "Scene and Structure" by Bickham, "Characters and Viewpoint" Scott Orson Card. I am currently reading "Techniques of the Selling Writer" which is excellent but really densely written so it's taking a while to chew through it. In any case, if you haven't read these, I thoroughly recommend them :)
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see how anyone could see what i wrote as even suggesting that the person isn't writing... it refers only to the energy being wasted that could be [added to] the time they already spend writing...
    i never said or suggested that, either... read what i did say more carefully and you'll see i only said 'worrying about' such a possibility 'is a waste of energy'... so please don't twist my words around to mean what they don't say and then twit me for it, jazz...
     
  12. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Ideas, like poets, are a dime a dozen. And that is being generous. Do not worry one tiny bit about people "stealing" your ideas, because they are not yours. Any fanciful story you imagine HAS been thought of at some point by someone. They just might not have written a book about it, let alone gotten published. What distinguishes you is the CHARACTERS and THEMES and MOOD and a dozen other more subtle things than the generic plotline. You as the writer will imbue your work with its soul, not the plot.
     
  13. WriterWoodsy
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    WriterWoodsy Member

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    I did not expect this thread to cause such a stir. I think we might all just have to agree to disagree on several things because that of course is the wonder of the human mind.

    CrimsonReaper- Yes, ideas are a dime a dozen but there is a level however where similarities in plot will be scrutinised and that's undeniable.
    Sorry, I'll have to disagree they are mine , they came from my brain. I believe regardless as to whether someone else has the same idea as mine it doesn't make the idea any less my own because you said
    Besides I'm not talking simply about plot line but the whole concept in which the plot comes from.

    jazzabel- I am very sad you did not try Harry Potter because of something you read. I have read both the "Worst Witch" and "Harry Potter" and whilst there is a fair few superficial similarities I think they are very different stories with very different characters. I didn't even think to compare the two until you mentioned it. They certainly have very, very different plot focuses. Yes, Harry Potter has a lot of hype but I think it is a quite amazing series and I wouldn't want you to miss out.

    mammamaia -
    I understand that's not what you meant but you confirm even in your latest post that the implication is that I am wasting time. Honestly I'm not wasting lots of time and energy thinking about this, it was just a thought in the back of my mind. I suppose we could all spend no time on this forum asking questions and writing instead but that would be redundant to the entire point of the forum.
     
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  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @WriterWoodsy: I have tried to read Potter, but it just didn't hold my attention. I don't really know why but it might be the theme, fantasy is not a genre I normally enjoy, I am more into mysteries and vampire stories, but I think if I was a kid when it first came out, I would probably have liked it. I am sure I will read them all to my kids one day, though.

    Worst Witch has not been copied as a story, but it had a similar yet specific premise, a bit like "Battle Royale" and "Hunger Games". Even though they are two different stories, the overall idea seems to have been borrowed for one to the other. When I saw the HP movie (saw a couple of those, they were pretty good), I was totally struck by the similarities to the WW in the premise, down to some pretty specific details. What bothered me was not the fact it was done, but the fact JK claimed to never have heard of the WW. We all borrow or draw inspiration from others, but I think it's important to acknowledge your sources, and I didn't like how that was handled. Otherwise, I have utmost respect for JK Rowling, if I was to choose a role model for what I am doing, she would be up there on that list. So it's not a bone I have to pick, rather an observation every time I think about this topic :).
     
  15. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    The only way around your problem is to share your work only with people you trust. Another option would be to write some short stories just for the purpose of the wo
     
  16. mVd
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    mVd Member

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    What about i don't know people who can critique my work constructive enough, to make it useful feedback? Perhaps there are writers in this forum who could be private messaged on these subjects who give good feedback and in exchange people could review their work as well. That would limit the chances of your ideas being stolen by a lot.
    Just a thought.
     
  17. names
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    names Member

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    If you don't ask for feedback for your work it can become a big issue when it gets read by someone. So much that the quality of your story could change drastically if you solve what it is about the work that makes it less special. We all think our work merits to be read and is something no one would think to write, but we can't read people's minds. They are the special ones really who have to go through reading through your work and hopefully they don't find flaws. Therefore it must be read at all costs. That feeling and thought hinders progress and this is a good opinion I would like to say. So this is the good sort of behavior we'd come to expect.
     
  18. Question
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    I share this same paranoia. More so with poems because their easy to copy. Its not like I’m worried they'll get published under someone else's name, I just don’t want other people taking credit for my work. Though if it was a novel, I would only post parts of it, if it was mostly complete because I would be closer to finishing it and I would be less worried of someone taking my idea. But Ideas are a dime a dozen, its the actual writing that matters.
     
  19. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Writing circles are great for this. You get together weekly or biweekly or whatever, and you can usually trust each other very well. You know who you have given your work to, which is different then posting on the internet. My writing circle is great for this; I write sci-fi, and my writing circle consists of a horror writer, a chick-lit writer, and an adult fiction writer. Because of the genre difference, not only will they choose not to steal my ideas - they basically can't!

    In any case, you need to let go of your fears and share your work if you want to get better at writing. I think friends and family are wonderful writing resources, but you need someone outside your brain to thoroughly critique your writing. Even if you've been published, and even if you're a best-selling author, you need your writing critiqued, or you will become stagnant. People who think their work is "good enough" might find themselves successful for a while, but the people that keep pushing forward are the ones remembered by history.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    With the current zombie craze, it doesn't seem all that unlikely. I'd also guess that the more general premise of "Adults become the enemy; children are on their own" has been used a number of times. (The Star Trek episode Miri, for example.)

    Edited to add: If you just want feedback on your writing, rather than your plot, you could also just write some pieces specifically for the purpose of seeking feedback.
     
  22. plett
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    plett New Member

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    When some muse gave Steven Spielberg the basic premise for 'ET' (lost alien discovered by young boy), he immediately registered this piece of intellectual property, prohibiting any other person/studio to make any movie with that specific premise. And that was, by the way, even before the first word of the actual script was written. Filmmakers can do that, unfortunately writers cannot. I agree, share some narrative with friends and trustworthy people. But if you have a very original basic plot that took years to 'surface from your unconcious', guard it with your life.

    Sharing your work, I think, must always be a balancing act: It is all about energy - share too much and you will loose that spesific energy that is locked up in you solitude as a writer. Share not at all, and you will become an island with no link to those you are actually writing for, the reader. (not the approval of other writers)
    Just my two cents
     
  23. Bobbycrane
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    Bobbycrane Banned

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    It would be easy to prove who had the idea first, just refer to the piece you put up for review on this site!

    And they say 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery', if your work inspires someone be proud. After all the same ideas get copied time and time again in Hollywood films, they even 'remake' old films.

    There are a finite number of stories which can be told, writers can only change the appearance and setting of the story.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd check your facts on that, if i were you, because 'filmmakers' do not enjoy any copyright privileges that are not available to everyone else... and ideas/premises/concepts can NOT be copyrighted in the US... he may have registered a 'treatment' before the script was written, but that would be a narrative version of the main storyline, not merely a 'basic premise'...

    www.copyright.gov

    spielberg didn't write it, either, though it was based on an imaginary friend he had as a child... the story was developed with and then written by melissa mathison, who had previously written 'the black stallion'...
     
  25. plett
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    plett New Member

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    Spielberg has been in court many, many times defending copy rights. I merely used these “famous’ copyright issues as an illustration that all writers/script writers should be carefull. I did not say that Spielberg wrote the script for ET, nor that he registered the ‘basic premise’ as intellectual property– as rightfully said, it can not be done.
    Fact is, someone had the ‘storyline’ (by lack of a better term) for ET a long time before Spielberg and Melissa Mathison co-worked on it: Satyajit Ray. He publically said: "It (ET) would not have been possible without my script of The Alien being available throughout America in mimeographed copies.
    The fact that the story came out of Spielberg’s childhood is also true, and as such this can be called accidental, unintentional ‘plagiarism’. As such film makers do have an advantage, they can protect themselves by ,as you said, ‘registering a 'treatment' (or whatever term is used) before the script is actually used. In other words they register how they, in specific terms, are going to deal with a theme that may be already in public domain, or within ‘universal unconciousness’ . The movie industry must do this in order to prevent the very nasty surprise of one’s competition suddenly making their own version of i.e. “Titanic” or “ET”.
    All I’m saying is that as writers we can unfortunately not do this: at this very moment someone on the other side of the globe may be writing a surprisingly similar novel to the one you are busy with – in fact it might even be your next door neighbour doing this.
    And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
    But don’t invite this, or make it worse by broadcasting your plot, and that’s all I meant.
    (But do share pieces of your narrative if you wish to do so and should it provide honest feedback on your hard labour)
    Regards.

    (PS English not my mother tongue, pardon)
     

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