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Cafe Doom  |  The Critique Crypt  |  General writing chat  |  Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
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Author Topic: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?  (Read 5615 times)

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Offline Rev. Austin

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Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« on: January 20, 2010, 05:01:44 AM »
But wait!  That's not quite the question it seems to be - I'm referring to stories that take something by someone else as inspiration. 

For instance, a publisher of an anthology wants stories based in a certain English town, one where people keep turning up dead (I'm making this up).  Say I wrote something for this antho that either turned out too long to sub, or wasn't accepted, would I then be able to use the story elsewhere? 

Or say an editor wanted stories based on a cursed artifact, one with fairly specific properties (making this up too), and the same thing happened - my story was too long to sub/was unaccepted.  Would this be okay to sub elsewhere?

Discuss!  :smiley:
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Offline delboy

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 05:14:35 AM »
I don't see any problem with reusing stories arising from an editor's vague requirements. You write a story set in a specific town, it doesn't make the cut, the only thing that's not yours is the name of the town. Using an artefact to drive the plot of a story is a well used device. Maybe if the specific properties are very specific you might be using too much of soneone's idea, but I'm sure it could be revised to become totally your own.

There is no copyright on ideas so I guess it's down to how much of it you feel is yours. And we all get our ideas from somewhere else anyway, be it newspapers, submission guidelines, snippets of overheard conversations, a look in a girl's eyes, a non-fiction book about Christ's bloodline, Hitler invading Poland...

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. If everyone who was inspired by someone else said, "Whoah, can't do that, Steve King mightn't have written a novel (yet) about a haunted vaccuum cleaner, but he's what inspired me so best I don't write it." we'd have never had all those lovely horror books that we have had...

As an addendum to this post, I recall my story I wrote for the Catastrophia anthology (that almost made the cut  :'(). The idea of writing a modern catastrophe story came from the fact that an editor was asking for one. Everything else was mine. I'd have no problem resubmitting, what I think is a good story, elsewhere. I won't... but that's more to do with Under The Dome having a similar theme and me not wanting to be accused of plaigarism. A bad case of timing..

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« Last Edit: January 20, 2010, 05:27:36 AM by delboy »
"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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delph_ambi

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2010, 05:57:42 AM »

There is no copyright on ideas

That's the key issue here.

Offline digitaldeath

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2010, 07:18:52 AM »
In my youth I read a scifi short story about an alien that was helping a doctor. His skill was to suck the disease from the patient. Obviously the practice became a great sucess curing everything, even cancer. Only in the end it turned out that he was story all the ailments in his own body and eventually died. Forty or so years later and I watched the Green Mile.
Hmm.

Offline PaulH

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 07:23:35 PM »
I wrote a piece a while back aiming it at an anthology, it didn't make the cut. Another antho came along, I changed (I think) 6 words, bang, straight into the antho it went. So although the idea was inspired by one set of requirements, the story fitted two anthos. In taht particular case, it was because the antho ideas were very similar, so if editors come up with the same ideas, I don't see the problem with writers doing the same, as long as it's not a knowing rip off.

Personally I've used songs, titles of books, lines I've heard in movies, even a snippet of conversation overheard on a bus as a starting point to inspire a story. They're all in some way, someone else's idea, but it's my interpretation of them that makes them unique.

Oddly though, I read a piece recently where a creative writing student had outlined and plotted a story to their tutor. The tutor then took the outline and wrote a story from it and sold it. I think the student had every right to be furious (as she was) in this instance, as it wasn't just an idea, but a fully formed idea that she'd worked hard on.


Anyway, that's my brain overworked for the night!

Offline ScottColbert

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 10:08:36 PM »
It's absolutely okay to submit it somewhere else. I received two stories from people who had written them for another anthology; for whatever reason they were rejected (which surprised me as they were both pretty darn good) and then sent to me.  Any story that's rejected is fair game to send to another market.

Offline Rev. Austin

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Re: Is It OK To Write Something Based On Someone Else's Idea?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 06:33:01 AM »
I wondered if I might be getting worried/paranoid for no real reason, but I thought it best to double-check since you never know what people's responses might be  :cheesy: not that I have actually subbed anything based on an existing idea yet, but I'm working on some stuff that is, so there you go :)
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