There’s been a lot of talk about plagiarism and fanfic abuse lately, and this won’t be a complete rehash of those topics, but they made me think about my own stupidity when I decided to write a mystery.
I thought it would be a bad idea to read too many, in case I discovered someone had already used a similar idea. At least if I hadn’t read it, I could pass a lie detector test and swear up and down that the idea really was mine.
It was a ridiculous, narrow way to think. In truth, there are only 6 or 7 stories, and everything is a variation off of them in some fashion. But I’m not dismissing creative theft.
It seems that every time someone comes up with a “revolutionary new idea” someone else accuses them of stealing the idea. While it’s also true that much of the time, the accusations are based on someone just trying to cash in, the writing world has been rocked repeatedly this year by scandal. Ch-ching. Authors have become a lawyer’s wet dream.
I’ve seen this on the small scale, too. When two people meet, one with a manuscript at home, one with a book just being launched, and their characters have the same name, live in the same small town, the murder isn’t identical but the victims could be twins separated at birth…
And though they both know they’ve never met each other before, both are suspicious.
In fact, it was part of the reason a writer’s group I know someone from stopped reading sample pages of new member’s work – accusations of idea theft.
Idea theft is serious, as is plagiarism. I got two bits of advice early on:
1. Don’t talk your ideas to death. Over-discussing a project in the works can lead to confusion, and it can also lead to inspiration – for someone else.
2. Don’t show your work to just anyone.
Both bits of advice came from an author, and I took them seriously. I won’t show wip’s indiscriminately. This is also part of the reason I have very little up about Ashes and Embers and nothing up about Past Transgression on my website. Are both manuscripts written? Yes. Am I talking about them? No. One person has seen A&E. Nobody has seen PT. Well, not counting evilkev.
It’s me on my little soap box for the day, asking simply this: If people think they can copy published works and not get caught, then why do people think their wip’s aren’t at risk of theft if they’re published in whole or in part on the internet?
Right, that’s me, off the soap box. And leaving you all with a Friday Funny. This joke came from Bonnie, who doesn’t dare post it on her site because she really is pure and good (what the hell’re you doing hangin’ round here, Bonnie?), but routinely puts up great jokes there to enjoy. Thanks for sending this one my way Bonnie! And if you’d like to see Bonnie’s walk on the wild side, read her comment here - I spit gin tonic all over the monitor, and I don't give that up easily!
The Horse and Chicken
On the farm lived a chicken and a horse, both of whom loved to play together. One day, the two were playing, when the horse fell into a bog and began to sink. Scared for his life, the horse whinnied for the chicken to go get the farmer for help! Off the chicken ran, back to the farm.
Arriving at the farm, he searched and searched for the farmer, but to no avail, for he had gone to town with the only tractor. Running around, the chicken spied the farmer's new Harley. Finding the keys in the ignition, the chicken sped off with a length of rope hoping he still had time to save his friend's life.
Back at the bog, the horse was surprised, but happy, to see the chicken arrive on the shiny Harley, and he managed to get a hold of the loop of rope the chicken tossed to him. After tying the other end to the rear bumper of the farmer's bike, the chicken then drove slowly forward and, with the aid of the powerful bike, rescued the horse! Happy and proud, the chicken rode the Harley back to the farmhouse, and the farmer was none the wiser when he returned.
The friendship between the two animals was cemented: Best Buddies, Best Pals.
A few weeks later, the chicken fell into a mud pit, and soon, he too, began to sink and cried out to the horse to save his life. The horse thought a moment, walked over, and straddled the large puddle. Looking underneath, he told the chicken to grab his hangy-down thing and he could then lift him out of the pit. The chicken got a good grip, and the horse pulled him up and out, saving his life.
The moral of the story? (Yes, there's a moral!)
"When You're Hung Like A Horse, You Don't Need A Harley To Pick Up Chicks!"
And now, I'm running off to check out JT Ellison's post for the day.