Writing Can Be Murder

January 2, 2007

Do you tell what you’re working on?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 9:40 pm

I recently ran into an author who I hadn’t seen for months.  I asked what she was working on (she’s got five or six books on the shelves). She didn’t tell me.

 Hmmm? Was it me? Did she think I would steal her idea?

Anyone who has done a writing exercise in a group can tell you that even when everyone starts with the same writing prompt chances are good that the ensuing stories will be vastly different.

 If I’m asked, I tell people what I’m working on. Sometimes I speak in generalities I’m working on a romantic suspense novel, an urban fantasy novel and a dramatic screenplay.  Sometimes I’m more specific. I’m working on the sequel to Nowhere to Hide, I’m trying my hand at a urban fantasy novel set in Yellowstone Park. My play is about a psychotherapy group. 

 At the moment I happen to know through a mutual pal that another author is working on a novel that is in a very basic way very similar to mine. I had the knee-jerk reaction of a five-year-old saying “That’s not fair.”  Then reason set in and I remembered that chances are good our stories will be very different from one another.

So I tell people what I’m working on. Do you?

 For the record, today I worked on my “sweet” romantic suspense Plain Jane. 3000 words and counting….



  1. I’ll talk about what I’m working on, but in how much detail depends on the context of the conversation. For instance, if an idea that I’ve had is very original, I’m more cautious of talking about it publicly (like on my blog or such). Logically, I know that 99% of writers aren’t interested in “stealing” ideas, and the 1% who are probably aren’t good enough to pull it off. But I’m paranoid. 😛

    Most of the time, though, I’m very open about what I’m working on publicly. If somebody I know asks me privately, I have no problem telling them. (Read: Someone who asks had better watch out, because I’m liable to chatter on forever. LOL.)

    Comment by Nonny — January 3, 2007 @ 12:53 am

  2. I understand not posting brilliant ideas on blogs and I understand that kind of paranoia. I prefer to think of it as common sense. 😉

    My problem is always that I’ve got too many ideas of my own rolling around in my head to want to steal someone else’s to add to the pile and as you say, I probably couldn’t pull it off anyway.

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — January 3, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  3. I never worried about it before, but after I’d worked on a premise for a series with a group of authors, and one decided to stake a claim to everything we’d brainstormed as a group–the world, characters, and plotline–AFTER my book was fully written, I decided I’d keep my ideas and my WIPS to myself. However, if a book is contracted and/or nearly finished, I will start marketing it. Like I did with my Twilight’s Possession series.

    The marketplace for erotic romance is getting tighter, more competitive. I think it’s smart to keep concepts for series and plots to yourself…at least until there’s no way someone else could write and publish their story based on a *borrowed/inspired* idea before your book released.

    My 2cents.

    Comment by Tawny — January 4, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  4. Sorry you had such a terrible experience Tawny! How frustrating!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — January 4, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  5. I figure my voice and flavor are unique and they are the ingredients that make my story different from another’s. There are no really new ideas or plots. All can be boiled down into about 10 concepts.

    So I’m happy to sell another writer what I’m working on. I may not go into elaborate detail when we’re talking, but that’s only because they get this glazed look in their eyes or their eyes start darting around looking for an escape exit. LOL

    Comment by cassandra curtis — January 4, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

  6. Oops, meant to say tell not sell. Maybe my own eyes are getting glazed. LOL

    Comment by cassandra curtis — January 4, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  7. LOL Cassandra — I like the idea of “selling” ideas!

    I admit that I’m one of those that has been known to get the glazed over look when a writer goes on and on about a project.

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — January 4, 2007 @ 3:17 pm

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