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Dear Extra Squeeze Team: How do I get critiques on my WIP but prevent plagiarism?

June 30, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , , , , , , , ,



Dear Extra Squeeze Team: How do I get critiques on my WIP but prevent plagiarism?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 


USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

In my 30+ year career, I have never worried about plagiarism. Most working authors don’t need to plagiarize your work, they have plenty of their own to worry about. New authors have their own ideas and probably will think they are on a better track with their own ideas. Keep your nose to the grindstone, listen to solid critiques and move forward.


Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Jenny is still on vacation time.  She be back next month with The Extra Squeeze Team.





Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

It is never wrong to take precautions with your work.  My best suggestion for preventing plagiarism at the critique stage of the writing process is simple. Don’t share your work with people who have not been vetted in some way to earn your trust.  If you doubt the integrity of the people that you are sharing your material with, their opinions about your writing should also be in question.  If you have any qualms that your ideas could be stolen by the circle of people you willingly handed your work over to, then tighten your circle.  Your work is your business.  In any business, great ideas can be at risk of idea theft.  Copyrights, trademarks, and non-disclosure agreements all exist to help enforce your rights.  Look into those options.  But realize that in the critique stage, prevention is a more powerful tool than policing the issue after it happens.

And, on the flip side, protect yourself. Accusations of idea theft or plagiarism is a two-way street. In a critique group, it is important to understand the parameters of collaboration.  You may be asking other people to give you their opinions and contribute their ideas to your unfinished piece, but that also has limits that need to be established and clearly understood. It is possible that in a critique setting, your work may be the catalyst for a bigger and better idea than you imagined.  If that bigger and better idea comes to light and is identified by someone, it is important to know how to properly handle that situation. It all starts with trusting who is at the table and taking the time to establish and understand the game rules before any of your work is read by anyone.

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

This genuinely is worth considering as ideas get stolen all the time (paranoid, me??). Sometimes plagiarism is not even committed consciously by the perpetrator. We absorb sentences and word structures and ideas all the time as we move through life, so it’s inevitable that we will reproduce bits and pieces of these when we get creative. If you’re sharing your work with a fellow creative, it should be accepted that you are going to influence them at least a little bit. If they churn out whole chunks of an original work or copy an entire plot without acknowledgement, it is quite different.

First, I’d advise using only people you trust to do your first run of read-throughs and critiques. If they’re your friends, they might not be as tough on your work, slightly biased etc., but it’s better than nothing at all. After that, there are copyright registration places if you live in the UK, but they are pointless in my opinion (we do not have a copyright office here – the US does). They won’t act for you legally if someone steals your work, and will take a small fee to register a copy of your work on the date you submit it. But if you have the raw, dated file stored on your computer, then you can just as easily prove you are the owner of the original work anyway. The law is different between the UK and USA, and elsewhere, so it is worth looking into copyright before you share your work with anyone.




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