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socact
04-30-2009, 04:45 AM
Hi everyone,

I have a question about something I wrote, and I really need some help with it. I've tried searching the forums, tried googling it, even tried e-mailing some agents, but I haven't found any answers. If this question is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it to another forum.

So I wrote this 80,000 word novel, kind of just for the fun of it, then started to get some tremendously positive feedback on it from a lot of random people. I read through it, and realized it's probably the best thing I've ever written, even better than the manuscript I'm querying/submitting now (which has a very original plot, so no issues there).

Anyway, it turns out that this particular ms is very similar, plot-wise, to a play that was written 50 years ago, and then made into a movie. It's basically the same premise (anyone heard of Same Time Next Year? It's like that), but the genre, characters, setting, age, and tone of the story are completely different. I've never even read the play or seen the movie, but I have a general idea what it's about. Basically, my ms is a mystery/drama, a serious romance, involves two young (teens/20s) protagonists, and the story spans over the course of ten years. The ending is uncertain throughout the story (it's a twist ending). The play is a comedy, about older people, takes place over like 30 years, and is about a married couple that cheats on their spouses.

So my question is, is there any future for this story in publishing? Do people go out and get the rights from authors, if needed? Do they try to get an agent first? Are there even copyright issues involved here? I would like to query this manuscript, but I'm really confused about all these tangential problems. Any help anyone can provide would be great!!

And if you want to read the manuscript and judge for yourself, please also let me know. :)

Thank you!!

IceCreamEmpress
04-30-2009, 05:05 AM
Basically, my ms is a mystery/drama, a serious romance, involves two young (teens/20s) protagonists, and the story spans over the course of ten years.

That doesn't sound like Same Time Next Year to me at all. There's no mystery element in Same Time Next Year, for one thing.

If you wanted to acknowledge the one point of plot similarity, just do it.

"It's so weird that you and he get together once a year to hook up."
"I guess. We did a play like that in high school, where these people had a date once a year for thirty years. Married, but not to each other."
"I still think it's weird."


Are there even copyright issues involved here?

Not at all. You can't copyright ideas per se, and you especially can't copyright an idea as broad as "couple gets together once a year for sex and chat."

CheshireCat
04-30-2009, 05:10 AM
That was more than one question. :)

I've seen the play/movie you referenced. And it sounds like your work bears little resemblance to it. And you can't copyright a plot.

Which means that you don't go to another author and ask permission to use their plot. You just make a plot your own, with your own characters and your own twists.

You should always get an agent first, IMO, if you mean to sell in today's market. Because you'll need every edge you get.

There are no copyright issues in the situation you describe.

Matera the Mad
04-30-2009, 05:11 AM
Plots are like coathangers -- it's whats on them that counts.

socact
04-30-2009, 06:50 AM
This is great, guys. Thank you!!

IceCreamExpress, that's a good idea - I think I'll work a quote like that into the story. Definitely let's me off the hook a bit.

ChesireCat, I'm actively trying to get an agent (it's a work in progress!). Thanks for your advice and info. :)

bonitakale
04-30-2009, 04:37 PM
Plots are like coathangers -- it's whats on them that counts.

Hey, love it!

Gillhoughly
04-30-2009, 07:55 PM
Send it out and let an agent or editor decide.