The One Thing Assholes Can't Steal

Writers worry a lot about their ideas being ripped off, but there is one tool in your utility belt that no-one can steal; Original voice.

Forget about your ideas. Fuck your ideas, in fact. Let the assholes take your ideas. You can always have more.

Writers who can pen a three-act structure, decent character arc and an engaging plot are a dime a dozen, thanks to one of the many good books or courses out there - but it’s your voice that makes it a story that no-one else can tell.

The head-reader at one of Hollywood’s top agencies told me about a script that he knew he was going to recommend halfway down page one, because the writer had created a story that no-one else could write.

The plot wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary, neither were the characters. In fact the opening scene was a man in his apartment. It was how the writer told the story that got the reader’s attention.

He said the way the writer described the character’s apartment instantly grabbed him, because not only was it hilarious, but it was original, unique to that writer.

The line halfway down page one described the character’s bathroom. Instead of going into vast detail about what a mess the bathroom was, the writer used four words. The bathroom he said, was ‘a crisis of pipes’.

And that was it. Script recommended (of course he carried on reading, but because he was compelled to). This applies to novels also.

Neil Gaiman said; “There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better – there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.”

Write a story your way, and you’ll separate yourself from the sceptic pool of assholes at the local Coffee Bean, parading around with their shiny laptops and lattes, writing the most generic, soulless dross ever committed to type.

When I’m writing now I use this phrase as a mantra, 'There needs to be a crisis of pipes’ - it helps me keep my prose snappy, engaging and original.

It doesn’t matter if you steal another writer’s plot wholesale. I don’t give a shit if you just rewrite A Game Of Thrones set in an advertising agency; as long as you do it with original voice, then it’s going to be your story. 

People may steal your ideas, they may rubbish your work and shit on your dreams, but nobody, not one single asshole out there, can take your voice from you.