Today I return with the writing files:
Imagine you’re happily working. And then someone points it out. “Hey, that’s similar to what I did. You’re copying me!” Ouch. Although you may or may not have done something similar, you’ll naturally want to return with “Am not!” The point is that you have been charged with one of the most hurtful crimes in the business: plagiarism. They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but as you might have guessed, those being imitated aren’t fond of it. We all want our work to be special and anything we find which is too similar gets frowned upon.
Firstly, when it comes to being creative just for fun, similarities shouldn’t be a problem. Great minds think alike after all, so it isn’t a problem that you and other authors have the same ideas.
Secondly: when it comes to work, this is a no touch-zone. Bring in the yellow tape; your work should never be copied. We all understand this when it applies to our own work. However, what about you copying? While you may not like to admit it, there have been times that we all could be accused of copying, but not for the reasons you think.
If your story resembles that of another’s, they may get mad. The name of a place or character may be too similar to their own or a concept almost exactly alike. There are times when elements of another story may be introduced and when they will appear like twins. If the story is so completely different, then there is no need to worry. Unfortunately, if you are writing the same genre (e.g., fairytale) and make something exactly the same (e.g., proper names of people or places), chances are you’ll end up in trouble.
My advice is to admire other’s work from a distance. Work from your own imagination. The results will be worth it. Time to chime in: how do you handle plagiarism.
Until Friday, when I feature one of Great Britain’s greatest poets W.B. Yeats…