Tag Archives: writing

Plagiarism Versus Inspiration

What is the difference between plagiarism versus inspiration? I think there is a huge difference. First, let’s try to look at it through simple definitions. According to Merriam-Webster, plagiarism means to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas. Fair enough, no one can argue with that.

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Inspiration, on the other hand, according to Merriam-Webster again, is something that gives someone an idea about what to do or create or a force or influence that inspires someone.

Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.” Voltaire

How do you know when you are writing a story whether you are being completely original? Well, sadly, it’s highly doubtful your plot line is completely original. According to Christopher Booker and his 2004 book The Seven Basic Plots:Why We Tell Stories, there are only … well, seven basic plots. They are:

  1. Overcoming the Monster
  2. Rags to Riches
  3. The Quest
  4. Voyage and Return
  5. Comedy
  6. Tragedy
  7. Rebirth

So, I guess with only this many original plots, what’s an author to do? Well, that’s where inspiration comes in. If you copy a book word for word, or make small changes like substituting a name that is like the original, but close enough that it is recognizable, you are plagiarizing for sure. But if you take a story you admire, and base your own on it, then you are drawing on the original for inspiration.

In actual fact, plagiarizing is quite difficult if you set out to write a story. Try it. Take a novel you wish you had written and begin to copy it. Change the names of the protagonists and the setting and begin. Within a page or two you will find that your story has taken off and your characters have achieved a life of their own. What you thought was plagiarism was inspiration.

It’s actually very difficult to imitate someone else’s writing style since we each have our own unique voices. Take the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I loved reading that series. Sadly, Robert Jordan died before he could complete the last two books, which were finished by Brandon Sanderson who did a phenomenal job. But … there was just something missing – that indefinable stamp that gave the books that came before that je ne sais quois. That’s what I mean – it’s extremely difficult to copy anyone.

Do you agree?

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2016 Creative Writing Classes at Beyond-The-Lamppost

Tues. afternoons January 12 – March 29 in Oakville “Shaping Your Story”  

Wed. afternoons January 13 – March 30 in Oakville “Get Your Story Finished”  

Thurs. afternoons January 14 – March 3 in Oakville “Almost there: Revising & Rewriting Your Manuscript”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genre Fiction

What is Genre Fiction? It’s a term that pops up when submitting to various literary agents and publishing houses. Some want genre fiction; others don’t. But you need to understand what it is before you can figure out whether that’s what you’ve been writing in or not.

The Wikipedia definition of genre fiction is: Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is plot-driven fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre. Yes – well, that helps a lot, Wikipedia. Thanks very much.

What genre fiction really means is that the book is a rollicking good read.

popular books

No snobbery here. No incomprehensible words, no fine writing like Robertson Davies and James Joyce  -who I personally detest and have been unable to finish any of their books. don’t get me wrong – I am a voracious reader and love literary fiction and the classics, as well as other forms of fiction, What I do hate is the pomposity of authors like the two listed above.

Genre fiction can be broken down into several categories, although these keep changing:

Mystery/Suspense

Novels and Thrillers

Horror

Romance 

shadowfeverKaren Marie Moning’s Fever series is fantastic with supernatural elements, but above all is a romance. 

 

 

Science Fiction

Fantasy

ironKevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles is a superb read. For those of you who enjoy mythology, you will love the way he deals with many of the different world mythologies 

 

Historical

Action/Adventure

Westerns

Children’s 

fablehaven(I absolutely loved Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series. Have read it several times, and still find it fascinating)

 

 

 

 

 

Young Adult

All stories have elements which overlap one, two or three of these categories so sometimes writers wonder which genre they are officially writing in. What you need to consider is which area does the majority of the story land? Is the main thrust a romance or a mystery?

One of the main reasons you need to figure out which genre you are writing in is because bookstores need to know where to stack the books. All bookstores have labels such as Romance, Children’s, Teens, etc. If your novel is an orphan, they don’t know what to do with it. Therefore, make sure you know what category you are writing for. Children’s books are divided into even more sub-levels. There are books for children 6-8, 9-12, teens and the lower reading levels are sub-divided even more … but that’s the topic of another blog.

In the meanwhile, choose a genre and give it your main thrust.

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2016 Creative Writing Classes at Beyond-The-Lamppost

Tues. afternoons January 12 – March 29 in Oakville “Shaping Your Story”  

Wed. afternoons January 13 – March 30 in Oakville “Get Your Story Finished”  

Thurs. afternoons January 14 – March 3 in Oakville “Almost there: Revising & Rewriting Your Manuscript”