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¿Quisiera oro?

¡Sí, por favor! 1 100.0% [ 26 ]
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Alberic of Krufton's avatar

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I guess it's just one of those things that people, particularly writers or those of the literary persuasion, worry a lot about, but I've started to wonder why. What I'm talking about it "giving too much away."

Alright, so I can sort've understand the fear of people ripping off a plotline that you've been babying for a while now, but for projects that no one else has read, and likely won't read? That's not to say that you won't ever get published in some fashion, and will actually have a fanbase with readers waiting on your every update or new publication (good luck) but for a forum site like this, or any other casual mish-mosh of people sharing similar interests, I think it's just a little much.

Then again, it's about how much you're willing to share, I think. Not wanting to give away even the barest hint of a future or present plot may pique someone's interest, or may turn someone away entirely, since there's no hook or anything interesting to catch their eye.

I dunno. Are the secretive tendencies of the average writer anything worth pondering about? Maybe it's just me.
The Drunken Jester's avatar

Tipsy Man-Lover

I'm not VERY secretive with my stories.
I'd glad tell you the basics of any of them. But once you get into the particulars I get sort of..... "Why do you want to know?"

If you're talking about something like a chapter thing and someone asks 'what happens next' I'm never going to tell them exactly what happens.
Sometimes I'll give hints or tell them which characters will be in the next chapter though. Just for the sake of letting them speculate and keep thinking about it while I get the next chapter ready.
Alberic of Krufton's avatar

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I guess it's one thing to let loose spoilers for an actual work in progress, but I've noticed that occasionally vague ideas are left even more vague... Could just be that I've stopped caring so much about what people think, myself. If I ever get more stories out, I know next to no one will read them, and that's fine, let me tell you about this plot I came up with once...
The Drunken Jester's avatar

Tipsy Man-Lover

Another reason to be vague is the adage that says "If you tell the story then you will never write it."

I sometimes don't explain for that reason.
I'm not really worried about it.

It was an entirely different experience to hear "Dumbledore died" then to read it actually happening.
Desi the fuzzy fluffhead's avatar

Tipsy Prophet

I think another reason could be a lack of confidence in their plot.
I know if I'm not feeling totally confident in my "plot' I'll be vague about it.

That might also be because I have no idea what I'm writing about, or it might just be because I feel like if I try to say what the story is really about it'll come out wrong, or the whole plot is stupid.


And then there's always that things where people just don't really know how to explain their plots.

The vague plot descriptions always get me interested through...

(I was not thinking of writing when I read this title.)
Alberic of Krufton
I guess it's just one of those things that people, particularly writers or those of the literary persuasion, worry a lot about, but I've started to wonder why. What I'm talking about it "giving too much away."

Alright, so I can sort've understand the fear of people ripping off a plotline that you've been babying for a while now, but for projects that no one else has read, and likely won't read? That's not to say that you won't ever get published in some fashion, and will actually have a fanbase with readers waiting on your every update or new publication (good luck) but for a forum site like this, or any other casual mish-mosh of people sharing similar interests, I think it's just a little much.

Then again, it's about how much you're willing to share, I think. Not wanting to give away even the barest hint of a future or present plot may pique someone's interest, or may turn someone away entirely, since there's no hook or anything interesting to catch their eye.

I dunno. Are the secretive tendencies of the average writer anything worth pondering about? Maybe it's just me.


I hate it when people come on these forums and ask for advice whilst giving no details at all and when you ask them wtf they're talking about, they say "oh no, I can't tell you any more because I'm afraid someone will steal my idea". That's so stupid. What's going to happen, a literary agent is going to be browsing gaia and decide to publish a story here and pretend it's theirs?

I agree with marshmallow though, I think a lot of people don't want their plots critiqued because they're afraid people will pick holes in it and they won't want to write it any more. More still might just know so little about the writing industry that they legitimately think people are going to steal their stories. I think the rest are just afraid of critique.

I posted the first 11 chapters of my magnum opus here and have never worried about it being stolen. Honestly, there's nothing at all that can go wrong with posting at least an excerpt, especially if you're asking for advice.
Alberic of Krufton's avatar

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Desi the fuzzy fluffhead
That might also be because I have no idea what I'm writing about, or it might just be because I feel like if I try to say what the story is really about it'll come out wrong, or the whole plot is stupid.
I feel that way a lot of the time, too, but that's because it's hard to get a synopsis to sound interesting or "not dumb." Then when you try to include references to sub-plots and things, it sounds downright convoluted and then you kinda shut up out of embarrassment. Reading something that sounds dumb in a blurb generally ends better when you read the actual text. Generally.

I'm of the opinion that ideas are cheap. Sure people might rag on someone who takes something idea-wise straight from another published work (or at least has something that sounds similar to something else) but plagiarism, the more serious offense, is strictly for stealing the exact words of another. Starting with the exact same idea does not yield two identical stories, but I think beginning writers are so enamored with the Idea that they get possessive over it.

Good point about wanting to avoid nit-picking from strangers, though, Cogent. It's one thing to be part of a critique group or working with a beta where you expect that sort of treatment, but when online people start attacking your baby, no, that's crossing the line.
There are certain things I'm secretive about, and certain things I'm not. I have a HUGE twist coming up at the end of the first novel of a series I'm working on. And I'm not even giving hints that it's coming. I can't wait to see the rage and surprise bahahaha.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

There are two things to take into consideration when I post plot info:

1. Copyright issues.

You can't copyright ideas. Some people say that this means that it doesn't matter whether you post ideas online, they kind of can't be stolen, but let me rephrase that: ideas have no copyright protection. Sure it won't hurt your legal status, but people will notice if two novels have very similar plots and are published in a short span of time. And not in the way you want them to.

If I'm asking a question, I will post info relevant to that question, and nothing else. Because asking a question without giving enough information is not going to elicit helpful advice, but again, no copyright protection.

2. Spoilers.

Pffft. If someone doesn't want to see spoilers, they shouldn't go about reading about unpublished works.

Aside from that, well. Sometimes knowing what happens ahead of time makes reading something less effective, and sometimes it doesn't. I tend to think that surprise is a cheap element, and tends to make your characters act like dumb-asses because they have to go through the story blatantly ignoring the foreshadowing all around them. Case in point: Rowling. She has these very characteristic info dumps where several twists are revealed at once, and while it heightens the readers' surprise and sense of confusion, it detracts from the implications of what is being said. It's a bit anti-intellectual and it's really the only thing I see wrong with her storytelling technique.

So I try not to do that. And I'm pretty sure that I'll fail at some point. C'est la vie.
Are we talking 'giving too much away' as in summary or int he story itself?
Alberic of Krufton's avatar

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Moral Gutpunch
Are we talking 'giving too much away' as in summary or int he story itself?
Summaries is what I started off talking about, or rather the lack of such when Gaia folks talk about stuff they're working on but refused to share any potentially relevant details.

Giving too much away in the story... What all would that entail? Something you've seen before?

@Kita -- I could care less about copyright because I'm just a casual writer (or wannabe writer,) but obviously there are people out there who are more serious about the art and actually want to make money off it.

Part of me wants to say that the writing itself should distinguish two markedly similar novels or works, and the trials and tribulations of publishing could likely weed out the lesser product (hopefully the rightful author's and not the imposter's,) but I can't think of any two books off the top of my head that fall into that sort of situation. Sure, trends arise in literature and suddenly there's a massive influx of this genre or that, and generally certain plot elements tend to be used in some ways more than others... Unless one novel is practically plagiarizing another, I can't see much of an argument for idea-theft.

I read spoilers all the time. A lot of the time. Sometimes accidentally, sometimes because I read how the plot resolves itself as I'm learning about a story and thus know what it is I'm gonna read before I read it. Most of the enjoyment I get is from how it's written. Narrative style, particular lines of prose, voice, characters and how they're portrayed, that sort of thing. Plots can vary, but I like a book that's well-written as a whole more than unique in plot. But that's just me.
Alberic of Krufton
Moral Gutpunch
Are we talking 'giving too much away' as in summary or int he story itself?
Summaries is what I started off talking about, or rather the lack of such when Gaia folks talk about stuff they're working on but refused to share any potentially relevant details.

Giving too much away in the story... What all would that entail? Something you've seen before?


I've seen both. I can understand leaving something out (I often do) purely because you didn't think it mattered. But if you want help, people need to know all the important bits. You can't ask for help on a recipe and give only half of it to the person you want to help you.

I've also seen a lot of the later in stories, both not enough and way too much. We either get an unabridged history of a place or character (or just them telling the readers how awesome they are for over a thousand words), or the reader is left asking questions like when the nostalgia critic reviewed pokemon (where are we? Is this earth? The past? The future? Who are you? what's that guy? What are those? who are you talking about? What's a pokemon? Why are you going over there?)
Alberic of Krufton's avatar

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I've seen both. I can understand leaving something out (I often do) purely because you didn't think it mattered. But if you want help, people need to know all the important bits. You can't ask for help on a recipe and give only half of it to the person you want to help you.

I've also seen a lot of the later in stories, both not enough and way too much. We either get an unabridged history of a place or character (or just them telling the readers how awesome they are for over a thousand words), or the reader is left asking questions like when the nostalgia critic reviewed pokemon (where are we? Is this earth? The past? The future? Who are you? what's that guy? What are those? who are you talking about? What's a pokémon? Why are you going over there?)
That's one of my larger irks about some posts on this site -- the person coming to this forum with a question doesn't give anyone enough information to receive an answer. Then again, this is an informal atmosphere, and most/all of the in-depth poking and prodding and critiquing should ideally be handled by a beta or two...

One of the problems with world-building is that people want to show off all the work they put into something. (I should know. This is how my one proto-novel spun off into dozens of short stories, more wannabe novels, and some "non fiction".) I haven't read many stories where there's too much of a lack of history to a place, at least in published fiction. Online publishing? It comes up now and again.
Alberic of Krufton
That's one of my larger irks about some posts on this site -- the person coming to this forum with a question doesn't give anyone enough information to receive an answer.


Half the time, if I ask for help on a story, I end up editing it with more info at least three times.

I'm happy to give info, I just hate wasting people's time when they're nice enough to try and help.

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