questionmarkI was wondering how you feel about workshops. I am an aspiring screenwriter, and am about to enter a workshop of about 20 other writers. My concern was protecting my work. I don’t have a complete treatment yet, and god only knows how much my story outline will change before I really write it. I can register something, but it might be pretty different from the final work. Do I run the risk of as yet unmet peers stealing parts of my idea?

– Frank
Los Angeles

Get over it. No one wants to steal your crappy idea.

Honestly, Frank, your idea might be terrific. But the reality is, none of the other aspiring screenwriters in your workshop are going to realize it’s terrific, because they’re all busy working on their own crappy-slash-terrific ideas. They came into the workshop with the same false confidence in their genius that you did, and it’s this equity of delusion that will protect you.

Had you written in something like this…

I am an aspiring screenwriter, and am about to enter a workshop of about 20 other writers. My concern was protecting other people’s work. I’m unsure of my ethical backbone, and worry that I might poach other aspiring screenwriters’ stories. Do I run the risk of as yet unmet peers realizing that I’m a thief?

…I might be worried. But I’ve been getting a slight variation on your email every week for the last five years. “Idea poachers” are the WMD’s of newbie screenwriter angst. They’re not really there, no matter how hard you look. Just write your script, and do everything you can to help your workshop-mates.