They Stole My Idea!

You’re sitting there, reading a book or watching a movie or TV show, when something happens that is eerily similar to something you’d thought of ages ago, perhaps even written down. So naturally you exclaim, “Hey, they stole my idea!”

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Not exactly what I’m talking about.

I must’ve heard this line dozens of times. Heck, I’ve used it myself one more than one occasion. The truth is, of course, that nothing is original. As King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Chances are, no one stole your idea. You and whoever wrote the other work were likely influenced by the same thing, and as a result came up with a similar concept. The question then is what do you do next?

There’s an aspect of the story in my book, A Spark Ignites, which was done to similar effect in a film that came out last year. When I saw it, I was quite disheartened, especially as I had written the outline that included that very plot point well over half a decade prior. What I ended up doing was keeping the plot point, but downplayed it. It no longer played as big of a roll as it did before, and I figure by the time people read it, enough time will have passed, and the story is different enough, that no one will notice the similarities. That isn’t the only option though.

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It isn’t unusual for two movies with the same plot to come out around the same time, such as Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, Deep Impact and Armageddon, or Madagascar and The Wild. But why is it that only one of those movies are remembered, while the other is often forgotten? And notice that it isn’t always the movie that comes out first that’s remembered. What will stick in people’s mind is what was executed better. So just because someone ‘stole’ your idea is no reason to throw it out. Come out with it anyway. Just make sure you do it better.

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2 comments

  1. One of my friends wrote a book, and it is an exact replica of a very popular series that came out a year or two before his did…he claims he’s never read it though…I don’t know if I believe that though.

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    1. Writing a book is hard. Few people will go through the trouble of writing a book just to rip someone else off. Even a number of the Twilight ‘rip-offs’ weren’t rip offs at all. The Vampire Diaries actually came out before Twilight, way back in 1991. If you look closely at a lot of things, they can be called replicas. The show Supernatural is almost an exact replica of the Hardy Boys Casefiles (the 80’s series), except with demons. However, I doubt that was intentional on the creator’s part. With 7+ billion people in the world, chances are many of them will have the same idea.

      Then again, it could be your friend did hear about it but doesn’t remember and wrote it subconsciously channeling it, like that old episode of Malcolm in the Middle, where he spends days trying to write a song, without realizing he’s rewriting a popular cat food jingle he didn’t recall hearing.

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