This old fear still crops up occasionally on the Absolute Write forums. Sometimes we discover it while critiquing a query, because we ask for specifics. The writer hesitates, unsure whether to reveal the Big Premise or the Big Twist.
Or sometimes newer writers come right out and ask: how to prevent people from stealing their ideas? This is why I don’t worry about it. Here’s the same basic idea that I used for The Deepest Ocean (ship plus great white shark), used to tell five very different stories:
1. Young Adult
The hero is a fifteen-year-old midshipman. His father is an Ahab hunting the shark for his own reasons.
He’s one of the best captains in the navy… but every month he changes into an instinct-driven wereshark.
A shark genetically modified to be intelligent works with a destroyer to locate enemy submarines.
He’s a shark expert monitoring a great white’s release from Sea World. She’s the captain of a ecovessel out to stop a finning operation (anything that butchers apex predators for their fins is unspeakably cruel).
A battleship has to hunt down the last cyborg shark.
All these stories would appeal to different readerships. All of them would target different markets when the writers sent them out.
So why worry about the idea being stolen? If you and I both sit on eggs, I could hatch a turkey (albeit a bit late for Thanksgiving) and you could hatch a pterodactyl, because we’re different people and therefore we’ll produce different books. Both of which have their own place in the food chain.
Plus, I’ve got hundreds more