PDA

View Full Version : I've Unknowingly Plagiarized


SFFWorld.com
Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum


Pages : [1] 2

Takoren
August 10th, 2007, 09:13 PM
Ever found this happening to you? You put something in your story that as far as you're concerned is your idea, and then you read something and find out that someone did it before you.

Example: The continent in my novel is called the Seven Lands. Then I read George RR Martin with his Seven Kingdoms and Steven Erikson with his Seven Cities. Grrrr!

When I was in the process of creating my mage, I realized that no matter what I did with him people would compare him to Gandalf, unless I fundamentally changed my traditional approach to wizards. So I made him black and physically imposing. In short, I made him Quick Ben with a little Kalam thrown in for flavor. I had not read the Malazan books yet, though.

I also made my lead character a strong young man with a humble background with red hair. Rand al'Thor, anyone? In figuring out just how closely my hero resembled Rand (physically, anyway), I made him under six feet in height and aged him to be in his early 30's. The only reason he has red hair is that I do.

And that's just a couple of examples. Admittedly, I have not found that some book's plot parallels mine closely, nor are any of my characters blatant ripoffs of others, but it's quite worriesome to me sometimes. I never want to hear anyone say of my work "Oh, yeesh! It's just a ripoff of (insert name of book/author)!"

Has this happened to anyone else?

EricD
August 10th, 2007, 09:19 PM
Yeah, I really have to wrack my mind for original ideas. Once I was trying to make a story revolving around the idea that History repeats itself, and that the same battles have been fought a thousand times before and will be fought a thousand times again. And I was pleased with myself, I thought I had a nice little gem of a story coming along. But then it hit me Wheel of Time. Believe me, I was pissed :mad:

Rocket Sheep
August 10th, 2007, 09:32 PM
Seven's a special number. I always use it if I want to imply magic.

It's not actually plagiarism unless you copy word for word more than one line. If you just accidentally copy a plot, world, or character, that's just kinda lazily trusting your subconscious is feeding you originality.

We all live in the same world with similar influences, coming up with something original takes work. It takes feeding your brain with things that most people aren't. Writing something new is hard work right from conceiving the first idea.

Mock
August 10th, 2007, 09:45 PM
Seven's a special number. I always use it if I want to imply magic.

It's not actually plagiarism unless you copy word for word more than one line. If you just accidentally copy a plot, world, or character, that's just kinda lazily trusting your subconscious is feeding you originality.

Indeed, then you can copy names and live with it in total ignorance of the fury of readers around the world.


Ever since seeing the trailer for Stardust I've wanted to have flying pirates in my story. :o

Arinth
August 10th, 2007, 10:36 PM
There is no way that your characters aren't going to resemble previous characters created by other author's. Its the personality that creates the characters, the scars, the emotions, the fears, the desires, etc.

Don't worry if they look like other characters, worry if they act exactly like other characters.

choppy
August 10th, 2007, 11:33 PM
I once thought up a character who was the son of a man called Eddie the Finger. The character went by the nickname Little Finger. G.R.R. Martin's character showed up about years earlier. I didn't start the series until 2005.

I'm not too worried about plagarism though. I recently read a short story by Stephen King called Autopsy Room 4. The story is about a man who's metabolism has slowed due to a snake bite, but who's been pronounced dead - and who's still conscious. In the afterward he admits that it was stolen rather blatanly from an Alfred Hitchcock program. He even stole the name of the snake from Dame Agatha Christie.

Phellim
August 11th, 2007, 09:49 AM
The examples you've given don't seem too bad, so I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. As long as you have a reasonably original plot, and give your characters some depth, then they can't be likened to other authors' characters except on appearance.

And as far as the number seven goes; I use it all the time, it's even the date I was born on - August 7th. Many people believe it to be holy, or magical. So no other writer can own it, or stop you from using it.

JamesL
August 11th, 2007, 01:43 PM
I seriously would not worry about the fact that one of your characters vaguely resembles another. I mean, just because Erikson has got a black mage doesn't mean you can't have one too.

It's often said that there is nothing truly original these days, and it's pretty hard to create a character totally unlike anything that has gone before.

For my own personal tale of woe, I mapped out a trilogy about a frozen land and a war between these northmen clans. Then I read JV Jones' Sword of Shadows series and realised that not only did it mirror my own story very closely, but that she had written it far better than I ever could.

Damn.

Still, I'm writing it anyway because I'm stubborn. :)

adventurebooks
August 11th, 2007, 02:02 PM
Rocket Sheep says, in part:


'It's not actually plagiarism unless you copy word for word more than one line. If you just accidentally copy a plot, world, or character, that's just kinda lazily trusting your subconscious is feeding you originality.'

Another name for this type of work: Fanfic

Not good.

Rocket Sheep
August 11th, 2007, 08:01 PM
No, no, fanfic is a deliberate cultivation of an obsession with another writer's story and writing style.

Unless someone is paying a writer to do that to further a series... writing fanfic is a waste of time. It's nice to look at another style and elements of a story but it's hardly going to increase skills or to find that special thing that you can give to the culture that no one else can. It's kind of like, ooh, I think I'll reinvent the wheel today...

The thing I dislike about epic fantasy is its genericness. Now I know a lot of readers take comfort in the genericness but I always feel like I'm rereading the same story.

There are writers who do fantasy differently. Holbrook's Oracle, for instance is a different kind of character, and that sparks a different kind of fantasy. I liked Radthorne's Japanese fantasy. I adore Kim Westwood's buddist-type fantasy, Michael Swanwick's iron dragons, China Mieville's odd shipbound fantasy, Kim Wilkins historical dark fantasy, Richard Harland's black steampunk fantasy... so I have to say I like fantasy, done differently, but if I had to read epic fantasy, I reckon I'd have more fun reading a Mills & Boon or vacuuming the floors.

(At least in a Mills & Boon you can underine passages to read out at parties with your writer friends... oh wait... we do that with bad epic fantasy too...) ;)