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April 24, 2019

Asking others for ideas is one thing. Asking questions, such as technical things is quite another.

I’ve talked about both and seen both quite often on the forums.

There’s a difference.

A BIG difference.


When one asks others for ideas, especially in an open forum, this is not only laziness, at least in my book, but it’s also leaving the writer open to liability.

Think about it.

Author asks forum for an idea for his or her story. For instance, what should they name their hero?

Through the hundreds of suggestions, someone comes up with a name.

Author uses that name.

The book takes off and the series makes money.

Now, the original person that suggested the name sues author for a piece of the pie.

“Hey, it was my idea in the first place. Author grabbed it from me and never gave me credit, profited from it and bla bla bla.”

Haven’t we all seen this before?

What if the author asks the forum for a particular plot twist?

Someone gives him or her one.

Call the lawyers!

These are very simplified examples, but by being lazy, or not having your own creative spark, you’re opening yourself up to this vulnerability every time you ask someone else to come up with creative ideas, whether on an open forum, or even asking other people individually.


Geez, don’t any of you EVER watch the news?

What about owning your own ideas?


Asking a technical question for research is a whole different side of the coin.

Technical questions in no way write the book for you. They don’t cause creativity issues because they’re just issues that may get readers to call you on something.

Just the other day, I saw an excellent question. A poster asked if a cell phone would work if the user was buried six (or so) feet underground (I assume in some kind of container where the person could push the buttons or even see them).

The answers varied, and I’m not sure if his or her question ever got answered. This, folks, is the type of question that’s excellent research. In no way does it encroach on your creativity. It only enforces your sense of reality in the prose!

In my own example, back before I even had forums to consult, was a question for one of my upcoming novels about what voltages did the Russians use on their nuclear weapons systems?

As you can imagine, trying to research something like that on the net would raise all kinds of red flags. It would probably get me a visit from the CIA or some other guv’mint acronym agency!

Luckily, where I worked were some military hardware enthusiasts. I was able to find the answer. Not only that, they told me where to look on my own. The place was so obvious, I was flabbergasted, to say the least.


Nobody should creatively write your book for you. That should be YOU and nobody else, unless you’re writing collaboratively. Don’t let laziness interfere and leave yourself open to liability.

Besides, why write a story when you don’t completely own it?

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask technical questions. There’s a HUGE difference. By asking, you avoid the pitfalls of getting stuff wrong and having your readers call you on it.

Happy writing!

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