Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday's Word: Plagiarism

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.


  1. Great distinction between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Neither have fun consequences.

    Since I've been away from the blog world for the past few days, I just wanted to comment on your post for Monday -- critique groups are so valuable, and everything you said was spot on!

  2. Haha... you always make me laugh. Seriously. You're funny!!!

    What if I named my character: Edwin Mullon? You think that one would work?? Haha. :)

  3. Wait! I can't include Edward Cullen in my novel? Oh cr@p. I give up.

  4. WOOT WOOT!!
    sing it LOUD, sister!


  5. Oh, goodness. The thing is, as a writer, wouldn't one WANT to be original? I would so horribly guilty if I stole someone else's work, it wouldn't be mine, so why would I be proud of it? Even if it somehow made me millions of dollars? There are so many different stories out there, new characters, new angles. The trick is finding what works for you. Besides, there's just no more room for Edward Cullen's in the world, if you ask me! Good post!


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.