Got a few questions in my email–

“I like your story ideas in the series. Aren’t you afraid of someone stealing them?”

First off, the story about the wildlife guys and the story about the woman that runs away from home don’t interest me enough to write them. Go for it. I have so many ideas for stories it makes my head spin to think of them all. Besides, even with a twist going, ten people with the same twist will write ten different stories. The stories come from inside you, remember?

Bonus lesson: Let’s say someone makes that story we talked about the last week, the one about the orphan boy who goes to save the world, meets up with an old mentor (let’s kill the old guy off), and has to face his enemy at the end. Like I said, it’s an idea everyone uses. But it’s been written in lots of nice fresh ways, so it’s okay.

If we set this in a fair green land and set an orphan on a quest to destroy a magic item, and he has a bunch of companions, one of whom used to have the item and wants it back, and this orphan ends up struggling and suffering a lot but finally gets rid of the thing, people are going to call that derivative. This means it’s really a take-off of the beginning, middle and ending scenes of Lord of the Rings and anyone can tell who’s read it.

If you make the story different but make the fair green land full of tall, thin, noble, wise, nature-loving elves, that might be considered a cliche’ (I don’t know how to do the accent), because tall, thin, noble, wise, nature-loving elves are overdone . This is one reason to read a lot of the kind of story you want to write, to see what’s been done before.

Now if you call the Elves Elrond and Legolas, and the bad guy Sauron, or have it be a magic ring you’re casting into Mount Doom after two small guys with furry feet named Sam and Frodo struggle up the side of a volcano, you might have lawyers after you. That could be considered plagiarism, or copyright infringement, otherwise known as copying someone else’s writing then lying and saying it’s yours.

You see why honesty is important in writing? If you’re going to write, you have to make sure it’s really your story.

“Can you read my story?”

No. I have enough work to do already in the critique groups I belong to. Get in your own group. Thanks for thinking my opinion means anything, though.

“I’m scared to post my writing here.”

Okay. My daily readership is (on a good day) in the double digits. So what happens when you get paid for it? Posted in front of a whole lot of people. You might want to rethink the whole writing-for-profit thing, if posting here gives you such fits.

“Someone might steal my story.”

See above. But even if they did, so what? You’re a noob writer. If they’re so low as to steal a noob writer’s unedited story, they obviously have no talent to write their own. And besides, you’re writing just about every day and have more than one story. Right?

We’re talking career here. You’re not going to get rich from one story. Even the Queen of Fiction Income didn’t get famous until her third book in the Harry Potter series.

Life is too short to stress over these things. Go write something.

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