Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Rant -- Apologizing in Advance!

So I should probably preface this by saying this post relates to absolutely nobody I am currently beta reading for, nor anyone who is following my blog.  You seven amazingly talented women who are awaiting pages from me have the most unique, original, and refreshing voices I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Now on with it.  I love beta reading.  It is a creative outlet that calms the characters constantly screaming for attention in my mind.  I love getting back a revised copy to find  they have employed a suggested revision – whether it be taking a long complicated sentence and breaking it into two, utilizing commas and correct punctuation, or adding another thread.  What I love even more is when my beta readers call me out on the same mistakes I point out in their WIP's LOL!  It is a wonderful give and take relationship with a lot of laughs and crazy emails sent back and forth.
What I hate, what absolutely has me seething, is when I see my own content come back at me – entire scenes, dialogue, and descriptive paragraphs taken from one of my manuscripts and interwoven into theirs. First I rant, slam the laptop down, and let out a string of profanities that would make even George Carlin cringe.  Then I remember my mom saying that copying is the greatest from of flattery.  That calming thought works for about a second before I storm off in a tear again, pouring through boxes that have been sealed up in my attic for over a decade, looking for old law school books and legal briefs I at one time thought were useless academic exercises.  

I’m good now, mostly thanks to Lindsay who talked me off that pissed off ledge I was teetering on all afternoon. I took all that anger and tossed it into one of my characters, let him take the punishment for a something that was totally not his fault. It worked, I turned out a rather agessive but not half-bad chapter yesterday.

So what about you guys – ever run into this problem, or does my karma just suck?


  1. Oh, man. Sorry to hear it Trish. That's probably the most difficult thing about having critique partners over the web--you've never met them, you've never looked each other in eye, and you've never bought them coffee. (All things I do with my real life partners, from time-to-time.) That being said, I've had some great eBetas, and I'd say the majority of folks are out there trying to make it on their own merits.

    I just think it's so much easier for some people to screw over 'faceless' people, if that makes sense?

  2. You've hit on the very reason I don't have beta readers (other than my mom and close friends) - I'm so afraid of that happening. It happened to me in high school, in a creative writing course. A girl sat behind me and kept asking to read my stories (before they were submitted). She was so flattering and complimentary about my work - and then I realized that she was COPYING my ideas, my storylines, even chunks of scenes - but the teacher never caught her, somehow. I immediately stopped showing her my work. She even Facebook-friended me a few months ago, and I accepted, but BLOCKED her from my statuses, for fear of that happening all over again, lol.

    I have no doubt the beta reader thing has more advantages than disadvantages, and absolutely, writers should have their work reviewed (my Creative Writing students are, in fact, today exchanging their work for peer review in class). But I guess I'm afraid to let people I don't really "know" see my work, for that very reason.

    So sorry that happened to you! I'd be so pissed, too! I'm glad you shared your experience on your blog, for those writers who do the beta reader thing - at least they can be cautious and aware of the dark side of it...

  3. Wow. I haven't had this experience THANK GOD. I don't even have 'standard' beta readers because of this. I mean, I send stuff out to the several betas I do have, but none of those people are writers. Well, one is, but she's an anthropology major, so my YA fantasy/dystopian is totally out of her interest that way. And the people I DO use for betas are people who will tell me something sucks, but would NEVER even 'borrow' lines.

    I've always said that I have 'Throw Momma From the Train Syndrome' because my biggest (and far fetched) fear is that someone would get published with one of MY manuscripts. We laugh about that, but I think it happens more than you think it does.

  4. Oh I'm so sorry that happened. Beta readers are one of the those things that can be both helpful and harmful. It's so hard to find honest people who you've never met. I hope this all works out for you.

  5. ooo... I don't like that at all either. It's a form of plaigerism. Of course, there are only so many plots, situations, etc... Like a pubbed YA book I'm reading has a very similar kitchen scene to one Ive written in my last ms. It's purely coincidence, but if someone didn't know better after reading my ms, they may think I got the idea from this pubbed book.
    Still, knowing she's read yours and is adding to hers is frustrating. But it won't matter since you have different stories. Her karma will bite her in the end. Don't worry about yours, you didn't do anything wrong.

  6. No need to say thank you to me - I was on that same ledge with you:) Besides, can't say I'm sorry that you took it out on one of our characters - made for a kick-ass scene LOL!

  7. This is why I love you guys. You know exactly how I feel and what to say to make it seem better!


  8. I just can't believe the beta had the audacity to then send you the work after he or she had stolen your lines. That takes it to a whole other level if you ask me. I just started doing the beta thing. So far its been a great learning experience and I have been lucky enough to have a great partner. Hope I never have this problem. However, I've been reading The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr and just last night, I came to a sentence in Radiant Shadows that was almost exactly like one of my own. Right after saying, "Drat", it felt kind of good to be on that level with at least one sentence. Guess I'll be revising that one, after all, she did print it first. LOL.

  9. This is one reason I don't read in the genre I write in-- I don't want to have the temptation to adjust my WIP to what someone else has written.

    Sorry to hear his happened!

  10. It has happened to me. More than once. Not with beta readers but in other writing arenas. And it just stinks.

    I have had other (neutral) people point out to me when it has happened and express their outrage and also I have had others shuffle their feet and nervously say (when it was a friend of theirs who did it) "I'm sure it's just a coincidence..."

    What cracks me up is that people think you won't notice...when it's an exact phrase from prose you've just posted to, say, a critique thread on a forum and then the very next day they post an excerpt from their work they announce they are very excited to have just written- with your phrase in it- for critique by the same group! I wonder what people do to delude themselves into thinking this is okay.

    Sorry it happened to you, hope it never happens again! It's just an icky feeling and I wouldn't wish it on any artist (it happens in more forms of art than just writing...all of them, basically)

    @Mary- I hear you there, and I purposely don't even read blog posts now on stories or anything to do with the genre I'm currently writing, because I wouldn't ever want to see something that could even lead anyone to ever think I'd used an idea of theirs.

    I work too hard on my writing- it's got to be all mine. I'd rather have it 'fail' being what it is and have it be mine than 'succeed' and take anything from anyone else.


  11. This is unreal! I am amazed at the audacity of these people. So sorry this has happened to you. What are you going to do? (Besides never sending them your stuff again, obvs.)

  12. Wow, Trish. Sorry that happened. Have you confronted this person? Cause, really, it's NOT okay to plagiarize.

    My crit group has been together for four years, we've sometimes given a nod to one another in the form of a word or phrase, but always with permission.

  13. Trisha, I don't know what to say. I guess I am so trusting. I haven't had as many betas as you, probably, so I have been lucky in this respect. I just can't believe someone would do this, especially to another promising author.

    This makes me want to make a list of the wonderful beta's I've had (you included) and only use those select few. Now, I understand why some have difficulty putting their work out there to be tested.

    You are a wonderful author, Trisha, and I look forward to seeing your novels on the shelves in the future!

  14. This is a huge fear I have. I'm so afraid that if I send my manuscript to someone I meet online, it will end up getting published under someone else's name. So far, the only beta readers I've had are friends and family.

  15. Hey, nice to meet you crusader!

    Wow, I'm shocked that this happened to you. I must be really, really naive because I can't believe any of my betas would ever do this. That's really awful, I'm so sorry that happened!

  16. That sucks that someone would do that to you. I have not had a problem like this that I know of because I have not trusted too many people with my finished work. Either that or they were smart enough not to send me work of theirs that had inner woven parts of mine in it. That is a buzz kill in itself. It is hard enough to work on something for months knowing that you are the one molding it into something you are proud of to see that another only took a week to borrow your material. That is scary knowing (and I know they do exist)that those people are out there. You are talented and your work speaks for itself. I agree with PK that Karma has an agenda for everyone and sometimes it is not pretty.

  17. Oh, that's awful! I can't believe that happened! (hopefully only once???) please comfort yourself that such a person has no hope as a writer, absolutely no hope, if they resort to such methods.

    On a more positive note (I hope) I'm a new follower and cruasder...

  18. Hey there Crusader! WOW I'm so sorry to hear that has happened to you. I was so scared of that happening to me when I let people be beta readers for me.

  19. Sometimes it's hard to tell if copying is a form of flattery or unoriginality. I've had ideas copied from me before, and I feel that it would be one thing if it was just the idea that they've copied, but when they take the essence of me so that it's my voice instead of theirs, that's a little painful to watch. As writers, we are so proud of our unique voices and talents and point of views. Due to the challenges of getting published, it sometimes seems like all we have to separate us from others. So when someone tries to take that and claim it as his or her own, the first reaction is to !!!!!!! But once that feeling starts to calm itself, I start to see that if they need to take from others to beef up their writing, then in the end maybe they don't have what it takes. We've all been inspired and have piggybacked off of the stories of others. That's part of what writing is. But blatant copying, well that's juts a lack of originality.

  20. Wow, I can't believe your beta readers would do that. For one, it's dishonest and unethical. For two, it's just plain stupid - if they're giving you their work to read, as if you wouldn't notice that they'd plagiarised your material! The only people who have critiqued my work so far are people I know and trust. This may change in the near future, but I'm glad you've brought this risk to my attention.

    By the way, I'm part of your crusader group. I love your blog (the design is fantastic!) and I’m looking forward to getting to know you throughout the crusade.