Tuesday, November 9, 2010

To Excerpt or Not To Excerpt?

I’ve been thinking about putting excerpts up, perhaps posting a free story or two here, but I didn’t know much about the practice so I decided to do some research. There wasn’t as much material out there as I thought there would be, but I did find some different points of view. I thought I’d share them with you.

Basically, there’s the No Excerpts camp:

Be (Slightly) Afraid of Posting Your Work Online by Chuck Sambuchino

And the Pro Excerpts camp:

Stop Being Afraid of Posting Your Work Online by Jane Friedman

And then there are the writers, who also seem somewhat divided on the topic.

My thoughts are these: I think it’s very unlikely someone is going to find my blog and say “Oh, look, an under-published writer! I can totally swipe this stuff.” While it is possible something I post will spark off an idea for some other writer, so what? That’s not stealing my work, it’s inspiration. Even if they take an element of my plot, what they write will be completely different from what I have written. No two writers ever develop an idea in the same way, especially when it’s just a small thing from an excerpt or synopsis that’s going to be turned into a novel. If their book is better than mine, it may get published before mine. If mine is good, it will get published as well. How many times have you read fantasy novels that had similar concepts?

Now, stealing my entire plot is another matter. However, I don’t see how anyone could, just from posted excerpts. Maybe, it’s slightly more likely if I post a synopsis, but even that would only talk about the book in broad concepts, there’s not room enough for details.

Besides, I don’t want to stop sharing my work with other writers. I love discussing writing, plots, stories, characters, etc. with both readers and writers. It’s fun and inspiring and challenging, and frankly, I just don’t get enough of it. It’s how writers grow.

I discuss my stories (and post chapters and stories) at my critique group (Critique Circle, it’s in my links) and I discuss my NaNo novel and post excerpts of that in the NaNo forums. I love doing those things, and they’re just as likely (which is to say, in my opinion, pretty unlikely) to expose my writing to someone who lifts an idea, or a concept. Ideas aren’t copyrightable for a reason. They’re a dime a dozen and everyone writes them differently.

I am pro excerpt. :D What about you guys?

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