While I was sitting around yesterday with two friends, eating lunch (Muse: You have friends?), we were talking about story ideas and such. One guy said he had trouble coming up with ideas and then one of them blurted out an idea for book – a good idea. The longer the conversation went, the better the idea seemed. It went on and on until we actually got our food (Stella's Hamburgers in Bellevue, NE – one of the best burgers I've ever had, so if you're in town, try it!). Back at the office, the conversation continued. I sketched out a hundred-word plot synopsis and sent it to them, which spawned further ideas and discussion that lasted off and on until the end of the day. So naturally, this got me thinking….
Who owns an idea? I'm not sure which of them actually voiced the concept in the first place but it was developed by all three of us. I banged out a synopsis but the idea can go any number of directions, and the devil is in the details; with a little tweaking, you could turn it into something completely different. They've both offered up some scientific thoughts about how such a situation would function and character suggestions. Though both of them are educated and have excellent communication/grammar skills, neither of them have much experience with writing fiction – leaving me to most of the grunt work if we indeed do collaborate.
So who owns this idea? Possible answers:
1) Whoever gets it first – ownership being 9/10ths of the law, and all.
2) The guy who first popped it out, regardless of subsequent embelishment.
3) All of us, and any one person using it breaches ethical / legal walls.
4) No one, since there are only seven basic plots, anyway.
I am obviously in favor of #1 – which is why I don't share my plots with anyone (except Mrs. Axe) until the story is written. Not sure how this is going to shake out yet, so I ask my small but loyal audience: how should I proceed on this? Please post your thoughts.
As for my friends? I encouraged them to run with it, I was met with lukewarm responses – high praise for the concept but uncertainty about how to proceed. Sensing their ambivalence, I responded in email by telling them that if nothing had been accomplished by the time I finished working on Pilgrimmage to Skara, I was going to grab the idea and run with it myself. That got their attention; they both responded within three minutes, alternating between calling me names ("*&(%$^@ THIEF!") and saying we should collaborate.
It's a damn good idea for a book. At least one of us is going to use it – and no, I can't tell you what it is. 🙂
Now back to work on Pilgrimmage. After all, the next idea is there for the taking….