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Is it good to let people read your plot idea?

I do like to do it because sometimes I find, what makes total sense to me doesn't to fresh eyes, and what I saw a possible or believable isn't. It helps me to see what are the strengths and weaknesses in my plot and characters, and what I'll need to work on.

But it's difficult to trust people, not on regular writing forums as much. But some people post their ideas on Wattpad for the world to see.

What do you think of Wattpad, too, I looked on there and thought the standard of work was quite low.
 

Wanara009

Troubadour
Personally, I only let a very select few see my plot idea (betareader, anyone who I ask for critiques, etc). Perhaps it's just my paranoia against their and plagiarist but I also think that putting your plot ideas online is like giving spoilers to your work.
 

CupofJoe

Myth Weaver
I never let people read my plots. It has been a hard lesson learned. As soon as I tell the tale to someone else it disappears from my head and I can't write it. So after a year of evaporating stories I worked out what the problem was and stopped sharing. This has lead to some circular and obscure conversations with friends as I try to explore something but not use the actual words. They have been very patient with me...
Apart from the glorious MS I don't interact with other writers on-line.
 

MadMadys

Troubadour
Thinker brought up one of the points to keep in mind.

In addition to that, people are often worried others will steal their ideas but I don't think of it as a real problem here. First off, your idea probably isn't totally original. Not saying we copy intentionally but with so many stories and movies and tv episodes and such out there, things will overlap. You could post your plot and someone could yell and scream you stole their idea.

Also, there aren't many people out there that can write an entire story but the one thing holding them back is coming up with a halfway decent plot. They aren't perusing forums looking to take someone's plot then make a million bucks of it.

So if you want to share, feel free. People here never lack in ideas so I doubt anyone would steal anything from you.
 

Chilari

Staff
Moderator
I go through my plot with my fiance. He's very good at asking the right questions. I means that long before I start actually writing, the biggest plot holes can be dealt with. But I don't share my plots with others, generally. Partly because sharing them brings up expectations that I'll write it, and that often doesn't happen in the end.
 

Philip Overby

Staff
Article Team
Given ten different authors the same plot - even outlined point by point - and you will get ten different stories. Likely radically differing stories for at least a few of them.

The real work is in the execution.

This has been mentioned in other threads and I believe it to be true. However, if someone is trusting enough to share their plot ideas with someone, they are assuming said person isn't just going to take it and try to "make it their own." That said, it's hard to control such circumstances because you can't copyright a plot idea.

So I ultimately think sharing ideas of your work is fine, but getting down to the brass tacks of details and such should be left to someone you trust or a beta reader.
 
I generally only share my story ideas with a friend of mine. We don't talk often anymore but I always felt that the discussions that we shared helped to motivate us to keep writing. It was a good way of keeping my creative juices flowing. I do agree w/ MadMadys about ideas never really being original. Every story or idea will always have comparisions to other existing works in my opinion.
 
Hi,

I can't see why not. Plots are not books, they are not writing, and they generally aren't unique. You'd be hard pressed to find a plot that hasn't been done before. What makes a book unique is the writing. Not the plot but how you tell the story. How you describe the characters and events, how you capture the reader's imagination. That's the stuff you should probably only share with those you trust.

Cheers, Greg.
 

Dreamhand

Troubadour
Plots are not books, they are not writing, and they generally aren't unique.

Thank you, psychotick... you took the words right out of my mouth. :D

Please understand I am COMPLETELY bias on this topic. The Roundtable Podcast is all about four people getting their heads together to make a story idea (read: plot) as tight and exciting and engaging as possible. Now, you may think that all those adjective are intended to reflect the reader's engagement (i.e. the reader will think the story is exciting and engaging), but that's not the goal. The objective is to make the writer excited about their story so they invest every shred of their creative mojo into creating their story.

Yes, the "work" is in the writing, and (as many writers will tell you) it's an endurance race. If you aren't passionate and committed to your story, then "the work" can become like a runner's wall and knock you out of the race. If the writer doesn't believe in their story, then it'll be an even greater challenge to get that first draft completed.

Everybody has a different process and a different way of finding that passionate commitment. Some start with a decent idea and then use discovery writing to explore it, finding the excitement and commitment there. Others need to be able to see the whole story laid out before them before that fire kicks in and they gotta get to the keyboard NOW! :)

Darkfantasy, if you're not sure about your story, I can tell you that one way to work out those concerns is by discussing it with your peers. Personally, there's nothing more invigorating or exciting than exploring a story idea with other people, having them share their perspectives on the elements, offer up possibilities for character twists or world building elements. Through that by-play you'll discover things about your idea you never knew where there or possibilities of plot that you hadn't considered. It broadens and heightens your awareness of the story you want to tell... and you may discover a the story isn't one you WANT to tell (and that's valuable, too). Or there's a whole different angle to approach it from that makes more sense to you!

And that's the bottom line... it's your story to tell. The ideas of others are irrelevant UNLESS it sparks interest and excitement for you. Dialog and conversation is one way to discover those ideas and harvest that excitement as fuel for your own storytelling efforts.

[Shameless self-promotion]

We just had a GREAT episode of the Roundtable workshopping a story idea with the fabulous Michael Sullivan (author of the Riyria Revelations). If you want to experience the excitement and value of discussing story ideas with others, I highly recommend it. Check out Workshop Episode 42 (Guest Host: Michael Sullivan)

[/Shameless self-promotion]
 

Dreamhand

Troubadour
Gadzooks! :eek: I clearly need to re-acquaint myself with the diverse offerings of the Forums.

Thanks, Reaver! I absolutely LOVE how the MS Community continues to grow and evolve (and I'll be making use of THIS evolution immediately!). Cheers! :D
 

Rullenzar

Troubadour
I wouldn't worry too much about letting someone read your plots. The odds of both of you doing the same story or even coming to the same conclusion is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you have some writer buddies it may even help to stir some ideas for each other.
 

MAndreas

Troubadour
The only reason I would say perhaps not to, would be if you loose your story once you tell it. Some authors need to keep it inside to keep it alive.

But if you're not of that ilk- I say go for it! However, be aware that folks will comment and critique- and if you listen to all of them you'll go mad ;).

(I think the "but they might steal it" idea has been done in the previous posts- but I agree- they may take your idea, but the book you make is unique to you.)
 

T.Allen.Smith

Staff
Moderator
I don't talk about my stories to anyone while I'm writing them anymore. This decision has nothing to do with worry over having ideas or scenes stolen (ideas are cheap) but solely because I realized that I sound stark raving mad while trying to describe all the components of a very complex and convoluted scheme.

Even when talking to other writers I find it difficult to discuss these things verbally. How could I possibly discuss a plot or story, considering all of its intricacies & length, and do it any justice with spoken words? That's the other bit. I'm fairly certain it'll at least sound weak and lacking in speaking.
 
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Jess A

Archmage
I prefer to keep my plots to myself when online. However, I have a lot of friends and co-workers to discuss plots with (offline). None of them is writing a book, and quite a few are willing to offer a very critical response which is what I need.

As T.Allen.Smith said above, it is hard to put plot into words. I feel like when I describe it sometimes, I can't express the entirety of the story and it comes out sounding lame or stupid. Sometimes it requires bringing out the brainstorm diagrams and the family trees/species/etc drawings! If they are interested in the first place.
 

pmmg

Vala
:zombie:

Sorry, another zombie... But I have something to say.

I once shared a story I was editing with a friend, who liked it so much, they shared it with another (without asking), who also liked it so much, they quickly took my idea, and wrote a story based on it, and entered it into a contest before me. Needless to say, I did not find that cool.

I did try to play it off like it was okay, and I could deal, but...never doing that again.

I dont like to talk about my scenes, characters, places, or any of it directly. Not till its published, or you are an editor or a beta-reader.

I also dont like to talk about them with friends and family for the reasons stated above. I just sound crazy or goofy to people who are not invested and have no real interest.

'Oh...so its like swords and wizard and stuff...'

'Actually, no...its not like that at all...but thanks for thinking it such.'

It takes too long to give the context, and if they want to know...I mean, I can print out a copy. I find that RL friends and family, and writer friends do not mix. And that's okay... Really. You dont have to read my story if its not your thing, we can be friends in other ways.

Writing is lonely. I am an introvert. I am well suited for lonely. When its ready, ill go for feedback, when its not...Its not a topic I am really open to.

Which is not specifically about plot (my plot is too complex for an elevator speech), but does seem to be what the conversation above is about.
 
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A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
Holy necro, Batman. I think this thread only predates me by about two months.

Now that I've got that out of my system, yes, by all means tell people your ideas. Ideas are literally a dime a dozen and meant to be shared. Orson Scott Card has a workshop called something like, "100 Story Ideas in an Hour," where he challenges writers to come up with, you guessed it, 100 story ideas in under an hour. It's a lot of fun. It also helps one to let go of some of their preciousness about their story ideas.

Ideas are just ideas.

Here's a story idea. A hero and a villain meet every second Thursday for 'enemies with benefits' sex and to hash out their complicated relationship. I just came up with it off a writing prompt, which is another author sharing their ideas. Knock yourselves out.

"A small, but dedicated group comes together to show that they can make a positive difference in a world gone wrong. Found families, urban fantasy, polyamory, and a city on the edge of disaster being held together by an addicted wizard physician who was never meant to lead. Welcome to Seahaven."

That's our logline, or our elevator pitch, should there be an elevator at hand. There's nothing to steal here, and this is the pitch of a working, growing series. Another good idea/pitch would be something like, "A young wizard named Harry can talk to snakes, is descended from a line of powerful wizards, and is under constant surveillance by the wizard's ruling body."

Which series was that for, again?

The point is no one can steal your ideas. They're glitter in the wind. Shiny, distracting, and they get into everything. And cheap. Let's not forget cheap. 100 ideas an hour is pretty darn cheap. How many did you come up with in the shower today? While driving? A story is a different matter. That's paper and blood and sweat. That's characters with voices. But ideas are too ephemeral to be more than a Muse's forgotten whisper; without you breathing life into it, an idea will die just as unnoticed as it lived.

So, don't sweat ideas. Sweat stories.
 

pmmg

Vala
The point is no one can steal your ideas. They're glitter in the wind. Shiny, distracting, and they get into everything. And cheap. Let's not forget cheap. 100 ideas an hour is pretty darn cheap. How many did you come up with in the shower today? While driving? A story is a different matter. That's paper and blood and sweat. That's characters with voices. But ideas are too ephemeral to be more than a Muse's forgotten whisper; without you breathing life into it, an idea will die just as unnoticed as it lived.

That is one school of thought, and for many ideas, this may be true, but for some it isn't. Some Idea's are in fact different, and have one best chance to resonate. After which, they are spent, to use again is to reuse, and the impact wanes.

I can come up with 100 ideas in an hour if I like, but occasionally 1 out of a 100 is worth keeping to myself.

If Mrs. Rowling would have shared that idea with me, and I popped out a story about a wizard named harry who talks to snakes while she was writing hers...I bet she would not have liked that.
 
That is one school of thought, and for many ideas, this may be true, but for some it isn't. Some Idea's are in fact different, and have one best chance to resonate. After which, they are spent, to use again is to reuse, and the impact wanes.

I can come up with 100 ideas in an hour if I like, but occasionally 1 out of a 100 is worth keeping to myself.

If Mrs. Rowling would have shared that idea with me, and I popped out a story about a wizard named harry who talks to snakes while she was writing hers...I bet she would not have liked that.
I disagree, and I firmly agree with A. E. Lowan . Ideas are nice and necessary, but in no way special. It's the execution of the idea that matters. As for the wizard named Harry story, what if she was actually referencing Harry Dresden of the Dresden files? Pretty much the same idea "orphan wizard boy in a hidden wizard world fights the evil bad guy."

We could take the exact same idea and end up with a very different story. In fact, it would be very difficult for us to end up with the same story even if we started with the same idea. If I take A.E. Lowan's idea for Fairy Rising she gave above and wrote a story based on that (and at some point I just might, since it's a wonderful idea ;) ), then I would end up with a very different story. I'm a different writer, with different ideas and experiences, different interests. No way I could write the same story.

I keep a list of story ideas which pop up in my head. For every story I write, I end up with half a dozen ideas for other stories. I can't write all of them, and even if I could I'd just end up with even more ideas. The execution is the hard part. Even if you come up with 100 ideas in an hour, and 99 of them are terrible, then you still have 1 good to great idea. In 1 hour... To actually write that novel then takes anything from 50 to 500 hours of hard work. That's the hard work, not coming up with the idea.

Of course this doesn't mean that some ideas can't be special to a writer. With the 100 story ideas different ones will ring out to different writers. An idea which looks amazing to me might seem meh to you and vise versa.
 
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