Let's say you have a story about a fictional war on a futuristic world and you already have five chapters going on and you want to keep writing to get to the end but then, you're stuck because you don't really know how to kill the enemies without taking off the credibility of the story(adding something that can happen in real life) and then you ask for help on a forum or on worldbuilding stackexchange, or talking to other people about it. You get answers, and that give you some pretty good ideas, so you continue to write three more chapters, but then you're stuck again and ask for help again, and you get another answers, ideas from other people that fit perfectly with your story so you finish your story.

So, when you reach that point, can you really say it was your original work, or truly yours? and so if there are any legal repercussions about it?

3 Answers 3


The only works that are truly original are by people who've never had any contact with other people. Every work has inspiration from other works, or ideas that are present in other places. Many excellent works don't even have novel plots.

As for legal repercussions, "ideas" are not protected by law. Only the expression of the idea is protected by copyright. "Inventions" that do useful things can be patented, but unless they ARE patented, they are not protected either. So you're probably safe, legally, if you are writing your own work. IANAL.

  • Indeed, many of the works(if not all all them) are based or inspired on something that has been already done. So in conclusion if the person is writing with other's advices, it is not a single person work.
    – Thezil
    Aug 31, 2015 at 20:13
  • 1
    @Thezil I think it just depends on your definition of "single-person work". If I am writing a book and I get stuck, and someone gives me a good idea, it is still my book. Heck, someone could say to me "Write a story about a boy who learns that he is actually an alien and must now come to terms with everything he knows being 'wrong', and also the rest of the world must deal with the fact that aliens exist among us", and I could write that book, and I'd be the author, not the person who suggested it, even if I didn't have the initial seed idea. Aug 31, 2015 at 20:51

When we give credit to a designer for an article of clothing, we do not caveat our praise by pointing out that they did not weave the fabric or grow the cotton or design the sewing machine or smelt the metal used to build the sewing machine, or invent the concept of clothing.

All work is enculturated and builds on the work of others. We give creative credit to the person who realizes the whole of the work, not to those who contribute all the elements that go into it. Many voices contribute to the material that goes into a book. The author is the person who weaves it all together.


If you ask for help and someone gives to you an idea, then logically that idea then becomes yours, even if you have to reinvent it. In quantum physics, they say we might all share a portion of the atoms of Albert Einstein at a given point, so to answer with a question or two, who's atoms are they? Do we ever truly own anything, or is it simply a case of passing things on to future generations?

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