1. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    using ideas from this forum

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ettina, Dec 31, 2011.

    If someone asks for advice on their story, and I suggest something, and they don't take the suggestion but I start getting inspired by my own suggestion, is it OK for me to start writing it? Or would that be considered stealing another person's ideas?

    I'm not sure about this because I honestly don't care if anyone steals my idea (as long as they pose no impediment to me writing it myself, and from a plot summary there's no way we'd do it similarly enough to have trouble), but other writers seem to worry about it. So I'm wondering what the general rule is about that.
     
  2. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    The general idea is it's not good to steal someones story wholesail. So if you give some advice to someone here on a WIP and then think, "hey this is an interesting story, I'll write it too!" that's not good. But if they've not taken your advice well then it's your idea isn't it? Also with the sheer number of stories out there, everything has been done at least once in some form or another, so taking choice ideas from other people's work isn't necessarily bad. It's called inspiration.
     
  3. astroannie
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    astroannie Member

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    I gathered from the question that Ettina was thinking something along the lines of writing a different story based on an idea that was suggested that went unused. Like a branch. If Ettina were to use different characters, in a different setting with some plot elements from the original but incorporating the discarded idea, it would be a new story, not plagiarism.

    At least that's my understanding.
     
  4. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Ideas cannot be copyrighted. And if you and I would work from the same idea, the stories would still be different.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly, AA!...

    that, too!
     
  6. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Ideas are there to be taken hence the usage/idea of this forum.
     
  7. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's a good thing.

    I've been inspired after reading some stuff, or by interacting with some folk here. It's nice. :)
     
  8. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I am too caught up in my own work to be worried about writing an idea someone else has. I would assume most people here are the same.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now, legally, ideas aren't copyrightable, but I assume that we're talking ethics here.

    I've had exactly this worry. I'm inclined to say that to be completely ethical, you can certainly use _your_ idea, at least as long as you're sure that they won't (you did offer it to them, after all, and should at the very least let them know that you're taking it back), but only if it can be unbolted from _their_ idea.

    For example, let's say that they have a plot where a cursed emerald bracelet turns up in a garage sale, after having been stolen decades before, but they don't have the faintest idea exactly how it was stolen or from who, and they ask for ideas.

    You come up with an elaborate idea involving an insider robbery of a country house in the UK during World War II. I think that if they don't use your idea, you have every right to use the insider robbery and the country house and the war, _without_ using them in connection with an emerald bracelet, or any cursed jewelry, or a garage sale, or any other element of their original concept.

    ChickenFreak
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I think thinking about ideas and concepts for fiction in terms of ownership is ridiculous. A writer can't own concepts any more than songwriters can own chords; getting hung up on it is a complete waste of time. Anyone who reads regularly will know that the same ideas crop up over and over, and all that distinguishes them is how the writer treats the subject (which is the only thing that makes concepts interesting in the first place). There's nothing inherently good (or bad) about a concept or a story until it is written. Every writer has it in them to completely ruin what another writer could execute flawlessly, and vice versa. It's no less ethical to take an idea from someone you share a forum with than it is to take one from Shakespeare, even though American copyright law tries to make that implication. If someone shares an idea that I find interesting or I think I could do something interesting with, then of course I'm going to use it. It will invariably be totally different to what they eventually write (if they ever get around to writing it), so I don't see a problem.

    Obviously this is only true to a point--it's not only unethical to write a Harry Potter novel containing the exact same tropes, but its idiotic and unartistic. Writers should be concerned with helping each other develop and creating opportunities for mutual benefit, not hoarding ideas and being paranoid. I suppose in a capitalistic context, that kind of corruption of the form is inevitable, but that doesn't mean we should idly subscribe to its distorting logic.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!... all of that...
     

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