Editing Rant: No One Is Stealing Your Idea

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What a bundle of mess. No one is going to steal your idea – and even if they did, they can’t steal your story. Pirate it, sure, but only after it is written.

Okay, let’s just deal with some of the concepts and myths new writers and non-writers have.

If I share my idea, and you write with it, I get some of the money.

How many of you have been approached by someone with an idea for a story guaranteed to make a bundle? You do all the work, but the idea man gets half the cash in the deal. Writers don’t have a problem coming up with an idea – the problem is doing the work to bring the idea to fruition. If someone has an idea and wants someone else to write it and the idea man gets the money, that is call GHOSTWRITING. The Ghost Writer gets paid by the IDEA MAN who then owns the writing – usually the Ghost Writer is paid something up front and the balance on delivery.

So, no, if you are an Idea Man, you don’t get money for not working. I have several hundred ideas – some of which are partially fleshed out in flashes on this blog. And every writer I know is in the same boat with far more ideas than time to write them. We don’t need someone else’s idea, unless it comes with a paycheck.

I can’t share my idea; someone might steal it.

The bundle of irrational this myth has includes unwillingness to query an agent who might give the idea to one of their contracted authors and the unwillingness to bounce ideas off of people who might sit down and type out the seventy thousand words to make the idea a reality. Nope and nope. Again, all writers have ideas – no one needs to steal more, if they are a writer.

A writer, on the other hand, DOES need to bounce ideas off of people. So do this.

Now it may look like someone has “stolen your idea”. This is because there are times when certain ideas come to fruition in a society; the winner in the writing game in those cases is whomever writes those 70K words first and cleans them up for publication. Some of the books I’ve read have been like “dude, get out of my head”. I’ve never met the author, but they have taken one of the ideas that bounced around my head and wrote it out. I’ve seen at least four science-fiction military stories on school debt.

They all are different. That is the thing. No one can steal your idea, because even if everyone starts from the same point – you end up with different stories. With a writing group where several of the members were scared of someone stealing their ideas, I had everyone start from the same exact words: “He took to the list…” – the flashes ended up with a contemporary romance, a historical military fight, and a science fiction courtroom drama. Same exact starting point.

Pirating isn’t stealing.

Okay, this one someone really is stealing your story. Or maybe music or art. Fight it.

And you – you who goes “I don’t have the money to pay.” don’t do it! There is a TON of free stuff out there. Look at this blog – I have somewhere north of 600 posts about writing and free fiction. I’m making videos. I make memes to share. All I ask is my name to remain attached to the product if shared.

If you are a content creator and you pirate, shame on you.

The free stuff is free, but pay for the stuff that isn’t. Content creators need to eat. (Speaking of which, I got a patreon you can sign up for if you want to make sure I eat so I can continue making the free stuff. – https://www.patreon.com/ErinPenn)

Pirating is stealing. This is complete work, not an idea. Hundreds of hours. But this isn’t in the “someone will steal my idea if I share it” at all. Pirating is taking someone’s completed work and is a billion dollar CRIMINAL business. Criminals don’t like doing the thinking work, they just want the product to resell. So an idea – pheff – that is way too much effort.

Plagiarizing isn’t stealing.

This is another one where someone actually is stealing work. But again, the idea has been taken to fruition. The work has been done – they want to steal the WORK, not the idea.

And again, my fellow writers, don’t plagiarize. You think it would be obvious to grown ups, but noooo. 

And readers will find you out. Some of us read over a hundred books a year – someone is going to go … “wait a minute”.


At the end of the day, no one will ever steal an idea. Even people with similar ideas or starting points, when the WORK is put in, will create something completely different – because the creators are different.

There are CRIMINALS who will steal the WORK once it is complete, but ideas aren’t worth the paper they haven’t been printed on yet so the criminals don’t care.

In conclusion, bounce your ideas off of people to hash them out to the point you can do Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard (BICHOK). The WORK is what makes a writer.