Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Night at the Questiom Emporium

I have finally found a writers' group in my area. In sharing ideas as most groups do, should I be concerned with sharing too much? I know Stephen King strongly suggests a joining a group. But, I assume most join groups that are comprised of friends - not complete strangers. 
In the same vein, a friend of mine that has some contacts within the movie industry has suggested me sending my manuscript to a screenwriter friend of his. It would devastate me to suddenly see my book on the silver screen without me knowing - or some not-so-distant version of it.

These are two VERY different sharing situations.  Sharing within a writing group is normal. Even if the members aren't close friends, it's really ok.  Also, don't ever tell anyone you were the one who sent me this question. Writers get VERY annoyed when someone suggests they're potential plagiarists. (It's akin to being hit by satellite debris--I'm sure it's happened but I don't walk around with a cement umbrella every day.)

Sending your work off to a screenwriter friend of a friend? Well, that might as well have a cover letter that says "I am an idiot."

For starters, most screenwriters won't even open a  submission from someone they don't know. It's entirely too easy for someone less scrupulous than you are to say "hey, that was my idea first." Most screenwriters are also busy doing their own work or adapting books that have already been published.

Get yourself to the critique group. Get your novel published. Then let your agent worry about the film deals.


GillyB said...

My critique group is an absolute lifeline. I shudder to think what my novels would look like without their opinions.

I never feel the urge to steal their ideas, and I know they don't even think about stealing mine (though naturally, they're all brilliant :D). When you're in a group, focused on your own, story, it shouldn't even enter your head.

That being said, finding the right group, filled with people you trust and whose energies match yours, is key. I was lucky. I didn't know a single member of my group beforehand, but it still works great. And they've become my friends.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Stephen King doesn't believe in writers groups at all. He believes in writing for one ideal reader (in his case, his wife.)

Here's what he says on critique groups in ON WRITING (sorry, I'm a King super fan):

"It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters."

Elissa M said...

I've run into writers who worry someone is going to steal their ideas. Usually these people are still in the learning phase of their writing careers. The fact is, nearly every writer is so obsessed with their own writing, they don't have any interest at all in stealing someone else's.

I belong to an online writing group, and I have to say my writing has improved at least ten times over what it was. I've had my work critiqued by dozens of complete strangers, and I'm positive not one of them "stole" anything from me. I've critiqued their work in return, and even when I loved a piece so much I wanted to go right out and buy the book (which of course wasn't available), it never crossed my mind to copy the work and try to pass it off as my own.

As Janet says, such theft might be possible, but it's so highly improbable that it's a total waste of energy to even think about it.

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

I have sent my manuscript out to people I met online, and never feared that they were trying to steal my ideas or my work. Granted, I met most of these people during the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Contest on your blog, so I already knew they were serious writers with plenty of their own fantastic ideas. Truly, though, it never even occurred to me to be wary that everyone and their uncle would want to steal my work.

Truth is, I met the most fabulous critique partner through your site, as well as a bunch of wonderful people who volunteered to be beta readers. And after reading their manuscripts, too, I know there are enough fantastic, original ideas for novels out there that we don't have to steal from each other.

So, thank you for that!

GN F said...

I live in writing group isolation, which meant I ended up online looking for people with whom I could share.

It worked out well except for one instance where I had a 'funny feeling', but went ahead and sent the major part of my MS for critique and comment. Imagine my shock when I found a copycat version in an internet forum. I don't know how it ended up there, but there's a lot to be said for making sure that you ask friends and family to read first. If they read of course. And as Margaret Atwell says, not your partner unless you don't mind losing him/her.