There's nothing worse than knowing you have to take another look at a novel and rework it again, and a new, exciting idea launches itself and takes over your brain. I was reading something the other day about writers who pay "ghost" scribes to write some of their novels (I think James Patterson was one) because they have so many great ideas that they can't possibly write them all themselves. And you must never let a good idea get away.
The other side of that is when you have a great idea and while you are mulling it over, planning and thinking where it could lead, plotting in your head, creating characters ... before you know it, someone else has published a book using that exact same idea. It's as if there's a great mass of brilliant ideas circling above the earth (or just over our heads) and someone else reached up and grabbed that idea and made it work before you did.
That's why ideas are not able to be copyrighted - and why you actually will see more than one book on the same subject. Often someone can have a completely different perspective and bring something original and new to the table. Often in class I'll set a writing exercise and then be amazed at how differently students write about exactly the same topic. And that's a good thing.
Today I filled in for a sick teacher whose class is on Scriptwriting. We looked at several short films from Tropfest and discussed what the scripts would look like, how the writer can indicate quite clearly to the actors and director what should happen (through actions, not dialogue). Several of the films we watched had hardly any dialogue at all, and it's interesting to imagine what the script would have been.
One of my short stories is currently being turned into a script for a short film by a young, independent film maker - Odin Dutton - he has promised to keep me updated on how it's going and when it will be filmed.
I gave copies of the story to the class this morning and asked them to discuss how it could be made into a film script. They had a few ideas (so do I!) which were quite interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with it.