I'm considering patenting a method (a business model + software + UI, for use on personal computers). The method itself and the functions included in the method can be accomplished in various ways, and I can get into specifics to prove that I can accomplish this method and these more specific functions (I can detail algorithms, describe inputs and outputs, etc.), but I'd like to also protect the more general method (and the more general of the functions) from being stolen (down the road) if they are not part of the prior art. (I don't want to steal other peoples' or the public's property.)
Is it a fine line to walk? How specific can/should I get in order to maintain my rights to the more general claim(s). I don't want to seem like I'm just trying to claim everything. I simply have never filed a patent before and don't know what's already out there.
Finally, if there are other ways of performing the method or the more general functions I'm claiming (which I'd estimate that there probably are), do I still have rights to the more general functions if those functions are indeed new and non-obvious? Will the patent protect against reverse-engineering of those more general functions? (I'm using "function" in a broad sense, not a strictly computational or mathematical sense.)