1. S-wo

    S-wo Active Member

    Aug 11, 2008
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    Legal Plots

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by S-wo, Jan 31, 2010.

    I've been thinking about this for a good long time. I have an issue with deciding some plot points in my next novel and trying to figure out if I should stay with my general idea or go for a new one. I try to determine what the majority of readers would prefer better down the road.

    I'm thinking to myself that there's no way for me to do this unless I ask the public. My concerns here are legal issues. I have heard among other industries like the gaming industry for example, that some companies won't accept or respond to letters making suggestions for new games because in the event that they do whatever that sender of the letter suggested, that person can sue them for using their idea.

    I'm wondering if the same can be applied here. If I ask you which of plot ideas I should go with, this same issue down the road of me facing a lawsuit might turn up and I definitely don't want that. I was wondering if anyone can clarify this for me?
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Most of the lawsuits these industires are frivolous (i'e. they have no merit before the courts), but they are an expensive niuisance to deal with. So business that are likely to be targeted by such nuisance litigation establish policies to insulate them from the start.

    But the truth is this:

    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has been done before, and it will be done again. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read this thread about What is Plot Creation and Development?

    Your story idea, particularly an unfinished one, is valueless to anyone else. Don't be insulted by this. Just take it to put matters in perspective.
  3. NaCl

    NaCl Contributor Contributor

    Apr 30, 2008
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    Copyright and plagiarism are two basic legal concerns in literature. Copyright protects the words expressed uniquely by you. Plagiarism is a violation of your copyright and can be litigated.

    General ideas in literature can not be copyrighted. If you think you've discovered some unique storyline, one that you feel nobody else has ever contemplated, then keep it to yourself and write it.
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    as noted above, no one can sue you over a mere idea for a story, since ideas for writing can't be copyrighted, thus cannot be 'owned' or 'stolen' by anyone...

    and copyright laws only applie to completed written works, not to ideas or outlines...

    so, as salty advises, if you don't want anyone else to use your idea for their own story/novel, just don't tell them about it...

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