PDA

View Full Version : Subconscious stealing of ideas



Newriter1
03-31-2011, 04:37 PM
My crit partner (very nicely) told me that I'd based a minor plot point in my book on a major plot point in her WIP, which I critiqued at the time I wrote my manuscript. I was surprised and pretty sure that it hadn't come from my friend's manuscript, because it came from background research I'd done on the subject matter.

I've read other posts on this subject. This is a whole new ballgame for me. What should I do to be more careful?

scarletpeaches
03-31-2011, 04:44 PM
It would probably help if you felt able to go into more detail about what this plot point is, but the bottom line is you can't copyright ideas.

dpaterso
03-31-2011, 04:54 PM
The very fact you know you need to be more careful, makes me suspect you're going to be more careful! As regards unconsciously "borrowing" anything from novels/stories you've read or critiqued. It's good that your friend caught this when she did, I guess.

-Derek

TMarchini
03-31-2011, 05:04 PM
I was once at a writer's retreat where somebody I never met described her book and read a first chapter. The plot idea was so similar to my own that, if we did know each other, I would have been convinced that one of us was working off the other.

There are only so many ideas in the world, it's about how you write the story. If you know you haven't stolen from your friend, then I wouldn't worry about it. It sounds as if your friend is worried that her work won't be picked up if yours does, because of this minor similarity... which just isn't true.

Jamesaritchie
03-31-2011, 06:49 PM
No one owns an idea, so you can't steal one. You can piss other people off by using their idea, but you can't steal it.

RNJ
03-31-2011, 07:39 PM
If you're going to make this change, you may want to go over that change and the reason for it with your agent. If you haven't already.

I've read several queries here that have similar ideas to other stories I've read or movies I've seen. Someone else's idea may inspire you to write something or the circumstances in your story may make this similar idea relevant. Certain actions can produce similar reactions.

If the change is unimportant to your story and you feel it's necessary to change, then go for it. If it is important, don't change it just because someone complains, even if he/she is your friend. Talk it out, don't just give in. A good friendship can survive that. Unless you purposely stole this person's idea to get your book published before hers/his, then you've done nothing wrong.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion only and nothing but an opinion.

PinkAmy
03-31-2011, 07:43 PM
You're a good friend and obviously you made an honest mistake. Once I thought I wrote a song, until someone told me I simply heard the song and forgot I heard it, LOL :D (I was skeptical, since I have no musical abilities). IMHO, you're doing the right thing, no book is worth a friendship (as long as your friend has a valid point).

scarletpeaches
03-31-2011, 07:45 PM
...no book is worth a friendship (as long as your friend has a valid point).Depends on the friendship.

It's amazing how many 'friends' get pissy with you when you start seeing a bit of success...

quicklime
03-31-2011, 08:31 PM
Depends on the friendship.

It's amazing how many 'friends' get pissy with you when you start seeing a bit of success...



very true......and you can always say "well then, they were never true friends to begin with", but that's only half true. People change, they do so even faster when money or a sense of injustice is part of the equation.

scarletpeaches
03-31-2011, 09:04 PM
...People change, they do so even faster when money or a sense of injustice is part of the equation.Or jealousy.

Procrastinista
04-01-2011, 01:09 AM
How to avoid "borrowing" ideas? Impossible. Every novel we've ever read and movie we've ever seen influences us. It's always good at some point to take a step back from one's work and ask if the story is different enough from what else is on the market. Agents/editors certainly will do this if we don't. When considering if your work is different, you could include your friends' work in that consideration.

One of my crit group members has borrowed several ideas from my last novel, but his story has still ended up being very different than mine. The mood is different, the characters are different, etc. And heck, most of the ideas in my book have been done before too.

Maybe you can sit down with your friend and discuss if your stories have that much in common. If you agree the overlap is quite small, then maybe you can agree to both use it. I'm betting that your executions of the small idea are quite different and there's not as much similarity as your friend thinks.

maracalone
04-01-2011, 05:20 AM
How to avoid "borrowing" ideas? Impossible. Every novel we've ever read and movie we've ever seen influences us. It's always good at some point to take a step back from one's work and ask if the story is different enough from what else is on the market. Agents/editors certainly will do this if we don't. When considering if your work is different, you could include your friends' work in that consideration.

One of my crit group members has borrowed several ideas from my last novel, but his story has still ended up being very different than mine. The mood is different, the characters are different, etc. And heck, most of the ideas in my book have been done before too.

Maybe you can sit down with your friend and discuss if your stories have that much in common. If you agree the overlap is quite small, then maybe you can agree to both use it. I'm betting that your executions of the small idea are quite different and there's not as much similarity as your friend thinks.

I think this is a great answer. When we have CPs that write in our same genres/age group this can sometimes happen. Now if your CP wrote a book about an author held hostage by a demented fan (this is Stephen King's Misery of course but just used for example) first, and you wrote a book six months later with that same plot arc after reviewing his/hers then there could be cause for alarm.

PinkAmy
04-01-2011, 02:05 PM
Depends on the friendship.

It's amazing how many 'friends' get pissy with you when you start seeing a bit of success...

See I don't consider this a friend so the rule wouldn't apply :D. But, if you genuinely realize-- OMG, I did get the idea from her--then I think the right thing to do is change it. It's good karma.

Susan Littlefield
04-01-2011, 06:19 PM
I just got an agent recently and about to go out on sub with my manuscript. My best friend and crit partner recently (very nicely) told me that I'd based a minor plot point in my book on a major plot point in her WIP, which I read and critiqued at the time I wrote my manuscript. I was surprised and pretty sure that it hadn't come from my friend's manuscript, because it came from background research I'd done on the subject matter. but my friend wants me to change it so I will.

I've read other posts on people being accused of taking other people's ideas. I think this is a whole new ballgame for me. What should I do to be more careful?

You can't steal ideas, as they have all been used before, and will be used over and over. There are simply no new ideas.

Did you tell your friend she was wrong? I would, and then just let it go.