Tips From a Young Writer: Plagiarism

Originally Posted on Knitted By God's Plan

As a young writer, I am a firm supporter of other young writers. However, there are many young writers out there that haven't a clue as to how to go about writing their books. I have decided to write tips that I have learned from my own experience, and show some pitfalls that young writers (and any writer at that) should avoid.

Today, I am going to talk about plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking another persons work without their permission and writing it as if it were your own. It is against the law, and doing so can make you end up getting sued or worse.

Now, I understand, plagiarizing is very tempting. It is so much easier to use someone else's predefined characters, and someone else's predefined plot, and someone else's predefined world. I myself have done so. I once had a play I was writing that was basically a rewrite of a book I absolutely loved. Sure I had my own characters, but it was still the same plot, and it was still plagiarizing.

Hey, cheer up, there is plenty of stuff that you can write about without plagiarizing. Even if you can't come up with a good idea without something someone else had written, you can use something that is in the Public Domain. What is the Public Domain? The Public Domain is anything that is not copyrighted. Something is copyrighted if there is only one person or group that holds the rights to writing something. What's in the Public Domain? All sorts of stuff. Fairy Tales, Greek myths, Chinese Legends, Robin Hood, King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, American Tall Tales ... the list can go on and on.

A word of warning on books that are based on Public Domain works. While it is okay to write about Sleeping Beauty, I would be very upset if I found a book that had a Sleeping Beauty that was EXACTLY like the Sleeping Beauty I put in my book. In other words - the Fairy Tale is fine to use, just don't use the same twists your favorite author gave it.

What if I really like this one name another author used? That is also a delicate topic. If it is a unique name to the author, make a spelling change. If you really like the name Kinkay, make it Clinkay. If it is a first and last name, switch it up with some other character. Kinkay in the book was a guy, you could make your Kinkay a girl. Above all, do not make your Kinkay an exact repeat of the book's Kinkay, no matter how fixed Kinkay is in your mind as a master bowsman elven princess, you can make him a swordsmithing dwarf!

What about Fanfiction? Well, as long as you only publish it to dedicated fanfiction sites, and you regard it as practice writing and your way of satisfying your curiosity as to what happened to the characters, it's somewhat okay. However, it is a very delicate topic, and I will say no more.

What can you do if you realize the book you're writing is plagiarizing? First of all, go cold turkey on what you're writing. Second, go cold turkey on the what the book is plagiarizing. Don't look at either for six months AT LEAST. During this time read other good books and watch other great movies and work on other great stories. When the six months are up, start over. Start writing the book from scratch. You will find that the story is now very different from what it was before, and very different from the story that it had been plagiarizing.

Now, that's all I have to say on that topic. If you have any requests as to what you would like me to write on, leave a comment, and I will try to answer your question. I have the next two weeks planned, but after that I am willing to take requests.


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