For today, let’s jump right into the topic and discussion. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been tweeting about plagiarism.
A close writer friend of mine had her concept stolen by another writer, a popular writer. She spoke to the website about it, but nothing was done on her behalf. After everything that happened, I was inspired to write this post about protecting your stories online. In the past, writers weren’t told they needed a “platform.” They didn’t need a bunch of readers following them, a Twitter following, website or blog following, they just needed to network in real life and submit their stories to publishers.
In our age of technology, more and more writers are posting their first drafts online for readers. As we all know, posting your work online is risky, and we need to learn how to protect our stories.
If you notice someone is copying your ideas, here are some things you can do:
- Confront them – if you feel the person won’t be too defensive and acknowledge what they did, then communicate with them.
Note: You can contact the website you post on to see if they’ll remove the story, but based on my experience, that doesn’t do much.
- Make your work private – let’s say you confront the individual and they don’t agree they copied your ideas. Or you still want feedback on your stories but don’t want to risk someone stealing it, then make your work private. On WordPress and other websites, you can make pages password protected. And better yet, use Google Docs.
- Remove your work – ultimately, you may have to remove the story from online. If you have a large readership or a good number of writer friends, this will hurt. But, you need to decide what’s more important: readership or protecting your stories? By removing your work, you ensure no one can take your concepts and ideas.
While plagiarism is mostly the copy of work, not concepts and ideas, I feel concepts in the creative world is important. A concept, especially a good concept, can change the way we look at something.
For example, take Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Harry Potter is about a magical school. If J.K Rowling posted her work online and got popular, how many magical school stories do you think would pop up? A lot! Once her concept was copied, it would no longer be unique to her, thus she would have lost her idea.
Same with Game of Thrones – a vast world where different houses fight to control the whole realm. If the story was posted online first and then stolen, imagine that someone wrote close to the same story, but instead of the most powerful house being able to control dragons, it was mermaids. Same concepts, but only a few things are different.
Most YA dystopian novels are the same concepts, but different skin. The premise is always a teenager that’s different saves the world from the evil adults (bad society). Stories that follow this are:
Red Queen (this also takes concepts from Game of Thrones with houses)
The Maze Runner
Honestly, there is a line between inspiration, taking concepts, and plagiarism, but I wonder, what’s that line? What do you think?
(warning: there are writers online that are known to steal concepts, so please protect your work.)