This subject was part of a rolling blog tour on Friday, August 12, 2011, with one member participating. Her name is Nancy Lauzon and her article The Case of the Stolen Idea can be found at http://www.chickdickmysteries. com
And now, for my article on Can Ideas Be Stolen?
Writers are always concerned about someone stealing their work. We copyright our stories to protect us from just such foul play. But ideas can’t be copyrighted.
We all steal stories all the time. It’s perfectly legal. In fact, there really is a limited amount of stories, so they are bound to be repeated. The true secret, the one that most of the universe doesn’t think about, is that every story gets its originality from the imagination and process of the writer.
If a hundred writers were all given the same basic story and told to write a novel, each and every novel would be unique. We choose different types of characters, different words, and different ways to put the sentences, and the story together.
A husband is killed and then the wife marries his brother. There’s a story idea. Shakespeare liked it. And over time it has been rewritten in books and movies. What if I wrote a story about a child who was a killer, whose grandfather was also a killer. And the parent felt responsible for passing down the ‘killer gene’? It was a movie back in the fifties called The Bad Seed.
Let’s do one, so you can see. How about The Karate Kid? Here’s my version: A single dad and his twelve-year-old daughter live in a very rough neighborhood. The daughter is bullied in school. Seriously bullied. So badly that she’s ready to commit suicide. Then one day the school nurse sees the way others are treating her. She runs the other kids off and tells her she needs to learn how to deal with bullies. The next day the girl follows the nurse home, hides in the yard, and watches as she goes into the back yard and starts practicing martial arts. The girl approaches and asks the nurse to teach her, and she does. But she is tough, and sad. Later the girl learns that the nurse’s child was bullied and ended up being injured so badly that he died. And her husband left her. The girl learns. And introduces dad to the nurse. See where this is going? Piece o’ cake.
Don’t be afraid to encroach on other people’s ideas. No one really owns ideas. They are yours for the taking. Take it and make it an original story.