Why I’m So Paranoid About Someone ‘Stealing’ My Novel Concept

by Shelt Garner

First, in a sense, I find the notion that someone is going to “steal” someone else’s novel concept a bit dubious. While I know it probably happens all the time, such creative theft is problem because of a specific set of ad hoc circumstances.

The late Annie Shapiro and me, back before everything exploded in my face.

It’s not like, in other words, that there are roving bands of creative bandits searching the planet for novels and screenplays to steal. But it does happen on occasion. And I think the actual idea of someone “stealing” a concept happens a lot more with screenplays than novels.

Writing a 100,000 word novel is hard work! Writing a 120 page screenplay is hard work, too, but just having a concept when it comes to a screenplay is 50% of the hard work.

So, do I think someone is going to somehow “steal” my novel idea? It’s definitely possible, just not very probable. I’m an unknown, untested, unpublished author who believes in this novel. That doesn’t mean anyone else would believe in it as much as I do to write the same concept in different form. Though, I could totally see someone cherry-picking the best elements of the story and using those best bits as the core of a different, yet similar, story.

Given how hard it is to write a novel, I think some of the typical aspiring novelist’s fears about having their novel concept “stolen” comes from simply insecurity and not knowing what they’re doing.

But for me, specifically, my fears about having this novel “stolen” come from what happened between me and the late Annie Shapiro many moons ago in Seoul. That woman quite literally really did “steal” the magazine from me…and yet she didn’t.

I was going through a lot and just was in no mental condition to continue the magazine so I just wanted it did. In the end, however. Annie proved that she loved the magazine more than I did and (in secret!) brought it back in a way that was far better than anything I did with it. So, even to this day, I am a little nervous that someone else will do something similar to me — specifically, when it comes to the thing that is at the center of my creative life right now, the novel I’m working on.

Anyway, even if the worst happens and someone “steals” this novel from me, I have learned so much about how I, personally, develop and write a story that I after I burst into tears and sulk for a few weeks upon the news of such possible theft, I probably would figure out some other story I want to tell and go from there.

Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen, though. I really love this novel.

Author: Shelton Bumgarner

I am the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report

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