Remember when you decided it would be fun to copy everything your sister said for an entire day until she cried and begged you to stop? I always think of that when someone mentions plagiarism. Maybe because that is what it is in its truest, most basic form.
No amount of envy or admiration for another writer’s work should prompt the stealing of their words. You are stealing a piece of their mind, their imagination, and I don’t believe you can put a price tag on that.
Plagiarism is defined as passing off someone else’s work as your own. This is not to be confused with Copyright Infringement which is the unauthorized or prohibited use of another’s work. Sound the same, right? Not exactly.
If I stole a copy of Twilight (before it was published) and said that I wrote it, then that would be plagiarism. But if I wrote my own story now and made Edward Cullen the main character it would be copyright infringement.
Keep writing, it may take more than one attempt to find your voice but eventually it will happen because when the story comes alive, when you are so deep into your own creation that you laugh out loud, or weep with grief…you will have found it. If it's a blend of all the authors you have read, then it is unique because it’s your own mash up of styles.
And remember, this does not mean that you can’t write a vampire story where the main character sparkles…if you are so inclined. But if you do…don’t name him Edwin Calhoun.
Or Ramon Minatore.
Or even Angelo.
Because you won’t be fooling anybody.
And that, my friends, is the Word.