Creativity and plagiarism

The great thing about writing a memoir is that nobody can sue you for plagiarism.  After all, the book is about you and your life.  How could it have been copied from someone else’s book?

Novels, on the other hand, are dangerous.  J.R. Rowling is being sued by the estate of an author whose book she is accused of plagiarizing.  That’s scary.  The trouble is that you might have read a story in the distant past and then forgot the source when writing your own story. 

I think the only solution to this problem is to base your novel on a snippet from your life.  Take something that actually happened to you and embellish it.  Let your imagination run wild, but always keep that true event in mind.  Maybe, your tale won’t be as fantastic as “Harry Potter,” but it will be safer and no one will take you to court for plagiarizing.

11 Responses to “Creativity and plagiarism”

  1. Nessa Says:

    This is not the first time she is being sued. i believe the author sued a few years ago. I’m not sure why the estate thinks they’ll get something as the other suit failed. Maybe they are hoping for a settlement.

    RnPB: Ch 013 – Clean Up

  2. Linda Hillin Says:

    I worked in a university for many years and I can tell you there is no greater sin than plagiarizing, and sometimes it happens innocently. Just thinking about the trauma that accompanies plagiarizing brings back memories of students litteraly quaking in their shoes. Bad stuff.

  3. paukaapress Says:

    When I write fiction the characters and incidents are sometimes from my life and sometimes not, or at least not directly. Ann Painter, heroine of several of my tales, is a complete invention, but no one believes me on that. They are sure she is real.

  4. Kay Dennison Says:

    I think that most plagiarism suits are bogus. Someone wants a piece of the big pie.

  5. Reader Wil Says:

    Even Bach used sometimes themes of other composers to create his wonderful music. Only his music was always better than those of the other musicians. Thanks for your visit, gigi!

  6. Hattie Says:

    To me plagiarism is word for word copying of large blocks of text. It’s surprising how much of this goes on among desperate students in undergraduate writing courses. There is a plagiarism software that finds internet

  7. musings Says:

    They’ve had this happen with music, too. I can imagine how easy that could be. I’ll bet it’s not done purposely. How easy it must be for a melody to stick to the corners of your brain and have it come up innocently. Same thing with stories, I imagine.

  8. Hattie Says:

    Oops. Don’t know what happen there. Internet content!

  9. Molokai Girl Says:

    Very good advice indeed! It is scary that someone as creative and talented as Rowling is getting sued. Also, knowing that she makes all that money brings a lot of people out of the woodwork.

  10. quilly Says:

    Ideas cannot be plagiarized. Plagiarism is the blatant copying of someone else’s work. Big name authors are often sued for plagiarism, but they are very seldom found guilty. It is just folks hoping to hop on a gravy train.

  11. Susan at Stony River Says:

    I agree with Kay and Quilly. This gets discussed so often in the blogs of literary agents and editors; all bestselling authors get threatened with lawsuits simply because people think that having the same idea means they deserve a piece of the action. The *idea* didn’t make the money — sitting down and hammering out a manuscript, writing it well, and pursuing publication all made the money.

    There’s a saying that there’s only X number of ideas anyhow — any originality is all in the execution, how we get it down onto the page. Almost all of these lawsuits are thrown out as frivolous or unfounded.

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