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An Unfortunate Coincidence

awnlee jawking

Late November and early December, I wrote some crucial scenes, yet to be published, for my current work-in-progress.

To my surprise, this month I read a scene in another author's ongoing story that was very similar to one of mine.

Reader e-mails say there's rarely anything original in SOL stories, so such a coincidence was probably bound to happen sooner or later. My inclination is to leave my scene as is. I have no doubt the other author wrote their scene first but there was no plagiarism involved on my part, neither accidental nor deliberate.

Have any other authors had this happen to them? What did you do about it?

AJ

robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

No, never but that doesn't mean a lot in my case with only one and a half written story. If I would encounter a similar scene before I published mine, then I would delete my scene and write something new. That's just how I am and not intended as a recommendation for you.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Reader e-mails say there's rarely anything original in SOL stories


My father was a professional photographer for a while. He frequently quoted one of the top members of the Wisconsin chapter of a professional photographers association he was a member of as saying "there's nothing new under the sun."

In other words, there is nothing truly original.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
graybyrd
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Have any other authors had this happen to them? What did you do about it?


Take it in context. No doubt the preceding paragraphs/scenes and the following paragraphs/scenes present a context in which the 'similar' scene uniquely advances your story thread. So in that sense, its 'different' from the other work. That said, don't worry about it. It's your work. Stand by it.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

If I would encounter a similar scene before I published mine, then I would delete my scene and write something new.


That was my first thought, but on further consideration it would have meant going back to my muse and asking for a replacement scene and my muse is rather parsimonious :(

AJ

awnlee jawking

@graybyrd

Thank you, I think your observation is correct - overall the two stories are quite different. When my scene reaches SOL, it'll be interesting to see whether anyone notices the scene in question.

AJ

Geek of Ages

@Dominions Son

That quote is from the Bible, not a random American.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ross at Play

@graybyrd

Take it in context. No doubt the preceding paragraphs/scenes and the following paragraphs/scenes present a context in which the 'similar' scene uniquely advances your story thread.

Wise words, I think.
AJ's dilemma concerned me - until reading your comments.

To AJ, perhaps you could post your draft ASAP, with a note heading the text:

* * *
For reasons I will not discuss, I ask regular readers to delay reading this chapter until after I post a revised version not prefaced by this note.
* * *

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Geek of Ages

That quote is from the Bible, not a random American.


I wasn't claiming that the person I mentioned was the origin of it, merely that he, someone in another creative endeavor,was fond of using in and used it frequently.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

To AJ, perhaps you could post your draft ASAP,


To what purpose?

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

To what purpose?

Just a thought, but to establish the timing of your unfortunate coincidence in case anyone does ask in the future.

Replies:   graybyrd  awnlee jawking
graybyrd

@Ross at Play

to establish the timing of your unfortunate coincidence


... with the certain unfortunate side effect of raising questions and doubt where none would otherwise exist. Better to simply leave it. As for those who go through life holding magnifying glasses the better to spy the mote in your eye, let them decry the cliché: how numberless the paragraphs spit up from the bubbling broth of stereotypical phrases.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Just a thought, but to establish the timing of your unfortunate coincidence in case anyone does ask in the future.


No, I still don't understand. I'm as certain as can be that the other author wrote their version of the scene before me. Whether I post now or in sequence won't change that.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@graybyrd

Better to simply leave it.

I just looked at the original posting dates of AJ's latest chapter and four chapters before that.
My conclusion was AJ should NOT do what I just suggested. He has been posting chapters too regularly to establish anything, thus it would only tend raise more questions - but not provide suitable explanations.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

I'm as certain as can be that the other author wrote their version of the scene before me.

I think when they wrote it is irrelevant. The relevant date is when you could have first seen his version.
My thought could only have any benefit if you posted your draft almost immediately after the other author first posted theirs.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

My thought could only have any benefit if you posted your draft almost immediately after the other author first posted theirs.


Okay, I understand now. Thank you.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Capt. Zapp

@awnlee jawking

Have any other authors had this happen to them?


Quite a bit.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Capt. Zapp

Quite a bit.


Did you revamp your scene, or publish the original?

AJ

Replies:   Geek of Ages  Capt. Zapp
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Okay, I understand now. Thank you.

I sometimes "play Devil's Advocate", tossing up potential ideas - even if I haven't thought them through - in the hope of prompting others to modify them into something that would work.

Importantly, I urge you to stand by your integrity and creative process. I suggest your answer if ever questioned should be:
(a) I wrote my draft before seeing their work for the first time
(b) Please look at my body of work. I have written a wide variety of somewhat experiment works in a relatively short period of time.

Replies:   PotomacBob
PotomacBob

@Ross at Play

I once had the opportunity to have a conversation with a lawyer who is often quoted in the mainstream press as being an expert on copyright. The sentence I remember most: "You cannot copyright information; you can copyright words." In other words, if the scenes are very much alike, but different words were used, it is not a violation of copyright.

Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

Did you revamp your scene, or publish the original?


I've always published the original. Coincidences in writing happen, and any halfway-intelligent reader knows that. Tell your story the way it's to be told.

It gets more complicated if you're making significant money and it could be proven that you plagiarized the idea or something, but I suspect you've little to worry about on that count.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Banadin

I would not worry in the least. Consider the do over genre. You could say they are all the same. There are only so many ways to save drowning person, pull them from a car wreck, make love, break up, or even commit murder. As it has been said, there is nothing new under the sun. Well maybe the photons it just emitted.

Capt. Zapp

@awnlee jawking

Did you revamp your scene, or publish the original?


I have attempted to revamp scenes but then it doesn't feel right to me. I may end up posting the originals, but the I worry that someone will say I stole their idea. It's very frustrating thinking you have something original only to find it posted by someone else. :-(

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

but I suspect you've little to worry about on that count.


I had a reader offer to pay to get the rest of 'Gay!' immediately but I'm pretty sure it wasn't serious. Still, becoming a money-making author is something I aspire to.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Capt. Zapp

If it means more of 'The Loser', I vote that you post the original ;)

AJ

REP
Updated:

The key question that I haven't heard yet is, What will the other author think of you having an almost identical scene?

I think most of us are aware that other authors get some of their ideas from what they read, although we may not realize it at the time. Both scenes may have be inspired by the same or similar source. Awnlee's idea for the scene is probably not original and if we read enough stories, we would probably find many similar scenes.

I had worked on a story for about six months. I was in the final stages of preparing it for posting when another author posted their story using the same title; parallel development of two very different stories that used the same title. I dropped the other author a note to let them know I would be posting my story shortly and it had the same title. Neither of us felt it was a problem.

So don't worry about it, Awnlee. If it really bothers you, contact the other author and let them know you recently realized that you have and will be posting a similar scene, but you weren't copying their work.

Michael Loucks

@awnlee jawking

Late November and early December, I wrote some crucial scenes, yet to be published, for my current work-in-progress.

To my surprise, this month I read a scene in another author's ongoing story that was very similar to one of mine.


For my ongoing series, chapters are usually written six months (or more) before being posted to SOL. E.g. I posted chapter 18 of Book 7 today and I'm writing Chapter 14 of Book 9, which, allowing for posting schedules and an interlude between books yields a LONG period from writing to posting.

Personally, I'd just post my story and if anyone asked, just say you wrote it before you read the other one. I seriously doubt anyone is going to give you serious grief.

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