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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Q. I just talked with a fellow writer at length about my series idea. She asked a whole bunch of highly pertinent questions about it, and I was eager to test out the work I've been doing over the last few months by giving her strong, crisp answers, and seeing her response. But as I hung up the phone, I grew nervous that I'd basically just handed over my bible to her. She seems like an ethical person, and I don't think the friend who put us in touch would have connected me to someone sleazy, but nevertheless, it would be devastating if my ideas were stolen. Is there anything I can do? Perhaps I can send an email thanking her for the call, and reiterating some of the details of what I've mentioned, so that there is a written record of my having been the originator of the ideas?

I generally don't worry too much about people stealing my ideas. Usually I worry about how I can possibly get people interested in them. When writers gather, they generally don't complain about idea-stealing, but inane-note-giving.

But it's not a bad idea to protect yourself.

You could protect yourself by copyrighting your material at the Library of Congress, but that would get expensive if you did it every time you wrote a pitch. Generally what I do is send my material to a few people. My agents, obviously, and a few people I trust to read my stuff. If you just get your pitch out there to a handful of people, it is going to be easy to prove that you wrote it first. And that's all I think you really need.

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I wouldn't worry about it. Every has ideas, but only a writer can execute it. I have a writer's group and I have never wondered or worried about anyone stealing my idea, and they are all writers. I have shown stuff to them at all levels, from outline to beat sheet to script. Writers have their own ideas to work with. Saying that, I always register scripts with the writer's guild once I've finished the first draft, but that's mostly just for prudence.

And though I think it's highly unlikely, let's say another writer does steal your idea. So what? They would do a totally different take with it, so it would have only the most basic aspects in common with yours. And besides, your idea is probably stolen from somewhere else when you really think about it. Shakespeare, mythology, ect. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all.

By Blogger Trevor Finn, at 4:17 PM  

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