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Using another author's idea

by Micaela
(Altadena, CA, USA)

In the book Jumper, by Steven Gould, he uses the idea of being able to 'jump' through space and end up in another area. You can only 'jump' from one place to another, if you are 'jumping' to a spot that you have been before.


I am currently writing a story in which I would like to use this idea, but I don't think I should use the word 'jump'. If I did use that word, I would obviously have to ask Steven Gould if I have permission to use that.

Would it be better if I just came up with my own word for that? If I did, then would it be okay, or would the whole concept of traveling through thin air still be his idea? Would I then not be able to use that concept?

Thanks for helping! I am really stuck and not sure what to do.

Also, am I allowed to send you more questions after this?

ANSWER:

Stephen Gould does not own copyright on the word "Jump" or even on the idea of jumping through space, any more than someone can copyright the idea of time travel, which felt fresh in The Time Traveler's Wife, but has been around in one form or another for centuries.

What's more important is that your own ideas also feel fresh, so if you wish to use "jumping" aim to use it in a completely new situation and setting. If you do not, readers will see it as derivative and unoriginal, the way we would find some new story about a girl falling down a rabbit hole derivative of Alice in Wonderland.

All literature builds on ideas that have been used in the past, but should never copy.

Thanks for your question and good luck with your story. You are not limited to one question, and while it is not always possible to answer all questions, I answer as many as I can.

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