Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Don't Be A Copy Cat

Motivational Poster once again created by the talented Ricky Ross

Anyone who writes will tell you that what they read influences what they write. There is a distinct difference in between influence and plain plagiarism.

Most of the time children will write stories based on something that they have seen or read. Stephen King began his literary career at 8 based off characters in a penny comic he read. That's normal and it's how they practice their budding writing skills.There is even the extremely popular fanfiction sites. Fanfiction is where fans of novels, movies or comic books make up stories based on the characters they love. These are all great creative avenues that encourage people to think and to exercise their literary brains. I do not knock them. It's when you start using the same tone, voice, adjectives, plot and story lines where you need to stop and take a step back.

I know this from personal experience and will use those experiences to illustrate how to be aware of it and then correct it. 

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga was the first fiction I had read in 6 years. Afterwords It was like a dormant part of my brain had been unleashed and refused to be repressed again. Fantasies, ideas, and daydreams would appear out of no where--doing dishes, folding laundry, and exercising. I began to write them all down...then the Glazier Series was born.

Which brings me to my copy cat connection. I had about 165k words in that draft and asked a couple of friends to read it. While most of my friends gave supportive and positive reviews this friend went through with a red pen and literally edited my entire manuscript. She also added notes on the blank pages in the back. It was my first somewhat negative yet honest feedback. Not to say that my other friends were lying...just that hers was more detailed.

Needless to say I was a little taken back. I read over what she had written and mulled it over a few weeks. There were several things she had suggested that I had already put into play. The most significant advice she gave though was that I had used several of the same adjectives and phrases used in Twilight to describe Edward on my own hero. She was right. I have kept that book with the red marks as a reminder.

It was a little funny to me because Edward and Henry are two separate protagonists..the plots themselves are different. Nevertheless, there they were. I went back through the manuscript with vigor and enthusiasm making it my own creation. Which wasn't hard because it wasn't that bad after cutting the book into two.

So Dear Reader be aware of what you are reading and even more aware of what you are writing.



  1. I can see it happening. I tend to speak and write like Jane Austen after reading one of her stories, and in school my English teacher thought I must read a lot of Jack London. Nope, but one story and I could parrot the style. It is a good lesson. :)

  2. Excellent blog, Bri. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks Ricky and guys are a great support.

  4. Any good writer or artist draws inspiration from things all around them. I do see where you have been inspired by other people, but Henry is NOT Edward. the pic!

  5. I used to be pretty terrible about using books as "inspiration." Good thing none of that went far enough to embarrass me! I think it's a horrible, awkward phase all budding writers go through. :)