Ah, the internet: the paradise for budding writers who want to test their skills in the world of fanfic, get constructive criticism, or just say, "this is how shit SHOULD'VE gone down!" Lots of imagination running rampant...and therefore, plenty of that little p-word following close behind.
Plagiarism. You know - that thing they tell us not to do when we're writing our essays or we're good 'n fucked.
Now, why would anyone want to plagiarise fanfic, you ask? There may be honor among authors, sure, but plenty of trolls lurk the intrawebs looking for malleable prey. It doesn't even have to be the whole fic; for all I know, the Xena fic I read a month-ish ago has been rewritten and reposted under a different title with a different author taking credit for someone else's creative genius. For all I know, someone took my pride and joy, I Will Always Find You, from ff.net and went, "Heh, let's see, I'll switch this here, and that there, and voila! I'll call it...I Got So Lost." Of course, I'm deluding myself here - there are plenty of better fanfic ideas out there to steal than that one. That shit about "imitation being the sincerest form of flattery"? Doesn't apply here. You can cover a song, you can remake a movie, but rewriting a book? Not gonna fly. If someone decides to write a book about this kid who inherits a ring and goes on a quest to destroy it, Tolkein fans everywhere will cry foul.
Before I pose the following question, let me iterate that I am not so deluded as to think that writers do not have editors. I would like to point out, though, that these editors are not only trained to edit, but they sit and - as far as I know/have heard from authors I've met - sit and build a rapport with the author face-to-face, discuss the book, argue about whatever, etc. If that editor decides to take the author's idea and pass it off as his or her own, shit goes down, lawsuits get filed, and people get fired.
So now I pose the question that is not meant to offend anybody but almost certainly will offend the lot of ye: Do I send my writing to a total stranger for the equivalent of peer review?
This is where a number of things happen:
- Some of you call me a selfish. stuck-up bitch who thinks she's better than everybody else (which, for the record, I so don't)
- Some of you call me a paranoid, greedy freak who takes this shit too seriously
- Some of you will be mortally offended (which I said previously that I didn't intend) and take this as a personal attack (which it isn't)
- Some of you throw up your hands in disgust and say all of the above and that I'm not worthy of being a fanfic author.
If you're still reading this, you - and I'm dead serious when I say this - have my humble thanks.
'Cause seriously - how many people had to do peer review in school and found it to be more than a little nerve-wracking? Yeah, sure, maybe it's only fanfic, but I kind've like my ideas, and if something happens to them and I get accused of being the plagiarist, that kind of hurts. I've heard waaaaaaaayyyyyy too many stories of people having their ideas taken - hell, I've read stories and thought, "Huh...that seems...familiar...." Hell, I'm the sort of person who, if I quote my own stories, credit those stories and say from the start, "yeah, that's from here." If I'm inspired by something/someone, I link. If a chapter includes an obvious shout-out to someone, I announce it. Most other people I know do...but how many don't?
So, to be paranoid or not to be paranoid? To risk having errors pointed out in comments and look/feel like a little bit of an idiot or to see your story pop up somewhere and feel like a REALLY BIG idiot? Maybe I am just paranoid, and I've seen too much plagiarism, and old habits die hard. Again, not a personal attack against anyone - paranoia tends not to discriminate. *cringe*
Now, having this viewpoint might even make me apathetic, after a fashion. Elaborated: If someone asked me to beta-read, and they posted it when I was halfway through beta-ing it because they were either a) impatient, or b) paranoid, I'd totally understand and just go, "Meh. Your words, your call." Apparently this viewpoint offends people, if the Howler I got was any indication. *double cringe* I understand, now, that I broke a sacred fandom law by posting early, but again, see forementioned viewpoint. Now, were I an editor and this was a full-sized novel and the author took it to someone else, then maybe I'd be pissed, but that's a real-world scenario with money and contracts and shit. This is the internet; crazy shit goes down here.
So, after having offended a fair few people before posting this, it'll be interesting to see if this either a) brings some understanding, or b) pisses people off even more. Knowing my luck and karma, b is looking more likely. So, if you feel the need to have your moment of superiority/the pleasure of crushing me under your righteous heel, by all means, stomp away in the comments. If you decide to ignore me forever, by all means, do that too. If you decide to see that I am not only explaining myself but attempting at an apology and understand that people make mistakes sometimes and verbally beating the shit out of them for it is not the way to go, then I once again thank you and apologize for my own ignorance.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go put on some plate armor.