Should I try getting my story published?

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Joe90
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12 May 2016, 2:56 pm

I've wrote a story what I feel is very good, and some of my relatives want to read it so they can give me some feedback (I told them I won't be offended about anything they say). I've read it through myself, and corrected a few errors to get the story right. I was thinking of getting it published one day.

I got the idea from a Creepypasta story I heard, but I still made up my own version with made-up characters and names. I listen to Creepypastas a lot and often pick up cool story ideas from them.

I didn't use any similies because those aren't really my writing style, but I described things and characters well, and there are a lot of emotions that I described well too. The only thing is, the story isn't that long. It has 9 chapters, which are only about 3-6 pages, so roughly that's about 30-40 pages or something like that.

But the plot is rather good. It's about these 2 little boys that are best friends, but one of them goes missing, and nobody, not even the police, could find him. Also on the same day he went missing, his baby brother has a terrible fall and bangs his head so hard that he gets permanently brain-damaged. Both the parents are devastated and they move away, and their missing son's best friend has to adapt to life without him. The middle of the story is about how he grows up and forgets about the tragedy, until things happen in his early 20's where he unintentionally gets reminded of the tragedy, and in the end you find out what actually happened to the boy that went missing. It's realistic, and all the things that happen in the story are down to fate, so there are no bad people in the story.

It's quite a simplistic story, not too much heavy detail, but the plot is good and is intriguing enough to keep the reader interested. It's not too predictable either. Should I see if I could get my little story published?


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Barchan
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12 May 2016, 7:45 pm

Yes.

If writing is your passion, and this is something you have put a lot of effort into, you should definitely try to get it published.



redrobin62
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13 May 2016, 11:20 am

Yeah, I think you should publish it. It sounds like a great story of hope, something the world needs right now.



Joe90
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17 May 2016, 2:30 am

Only thing is, I got the plot idea from a Creepypasta story. Will I get sued if I tried getting it published?


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Kiprobalhato
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17 May 2016, 3:20 am

^ well, is it copyrighted and does the person who wrote the pasta know you used some of its elements for inspiration? you may wanna look into that. wait for the feedback from your family to come in and off of that, make adjustments if you'd like before publishing.

some publishers reject more than others, but otherwise, i'd say go for it! :D if its your passion and all.

certainly sounds interesting.


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17 May 2016, 1:02 pm

The following explanation is from Joshua Michael Masur, a copyright attorney specializing in Intellectual Property Law.

The answer is... it depends.

But we can at least pin down the issue by name: This is a question often referred to as "substantial similarity," or "nonliteral copying."

The classic case that copyright professors make copyright students read is Nichols v. Universal Pictures. We copyright geeks call it the Abie's Irish Rose case. It was written in 1930 by Learned Hand, who in addition to having a great name, has a well deserved reputation for having written opinions that human beings often enjoy reading. (This is, sadly, a rare skill among the judiciary.) It's linked below.

I wasn't just being flip with the "it depends." Learned Hand admits as much in Nichols. That case held that the author's "copyright did not cover everything that might be drawn from her play; its content went to some extent into the public domain. We have to decide how much, and while we are as aware as any one that the line, whereever it is drawn, will seem arbitrary, that is no excuse for not drawing it; it is a question such as courts must answer in nearly all cases." (This is the kind of language we lawyers tend to like, because not only is it pleasant to read, it is susceptible to arguments on either side -- which means we get paid.)

More recently, David Nimmer (current author of the Nimmer on Copyright treatise) has proposed a methodology called abstraction, filtration and comparison for analysis of nonliteral copying. It has usually been applied to software copyright, but Nimmer himself advocates its use across the board. In a nutshell, the court is supposed to abstract the question to its component parts (which you've done to a good degree above), filter out the unprotectable ones, and then compare the protectable abstracted components to the allegedly infringing work.

The problem remains where to draw the line. The orphan who discovers that her parents were murdered by a villain and sets out to avenge their death is an unprotectable cliche. But every copyrightable work is a compendium of uncopyrightable components -- namely, words.

So looking at what you've written, those are such broad strokes that I would expect any US court to hold that it does not infringe JK Rowling's copyrights. Then again, if you were to keep to the outlines of what you describe, but were to divide and sequence the chapters precisely as JK Rowling did, I wouldn't be surprised if the court went the other way. Clearly on the other side of the line, if you were to scan and OCR a Harry Potter book and find and replace "wizard" with "solar knight" and "Voldemort" with "Galactina," you'd probably end up paying the fees of Ms. Rowling's lawyers.

As always, had this been actual legal advice rather than a mildly entertaining diversion, it would have been followed by a bill.