1. The Byzantine Bandit
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    The Byzantine Bandit Member

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    Imitating Style

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Byzantine Bandit, Sep 3, 2013.

    Would imitating another author's style be considered plagiarism? I don't think so, but wanted to be sure before submitting this paper where I think I have an excellent point demonstrated in the style of Chesterton. Thanks!
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It's not plagiarism to imitate a particular style. But my guess is that the importance of the style to the expression of your particular point is far greater in your mind than it would be in the mind of the reader. If the reader does not recognize the style as Chesterton's, than any expected resonance would be lost. If the reader does recognize it, the reaction could be either positive ("Oh, how cool!") or negative ("Couldn't he just say it himself?").

    My recommendation is that you make your point in your own style.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that excellent advice from ed!
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Imitating, or rather exploring, an author's style is not plagiarism, but it can be a useful approach in developing your own style. Ultimately, you want a style that is uniquely yours. Even if you try to channel another author's style, the result will inevitably be your own style, but it may not be your best, most natural voice.
     
  5. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I think channeling can be good for developing your own voice/helping you find tense/etc... I tried writing in third person/past for years and generated a whole lot of crappy pieces I'd never share with anyone. Then I tried First person/past and that didn't work out either. I was about to give up on writing entirely. Then I found the books by Sophie Kinsella and her style of simplistic jumping straight into the MC's head was exactly what I needed. So when I started practicing writing in first person/present, I was trying to emulate that style to an extent, and it eventually developed into the foul mouthed, sarcastic first person narratives I use today. I know alot of the literary "elite" HATE that style of narrative, but I love to write it, and if it hadn't been for that style of narrative, I would not be writing my first full length piece right now.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If imitating another writer's style is plagiarism, then it's very likely that most writers throughout history have been guilty of it. I think, in most cases, writers consciously or unconsciously imitate other writers' styles before finding their own. Even writers with very strong individual styles began by copying earlier writers. Even Ernest Hemingway, probably the most influential American stylist of the twentieth century, was strongly influenced by Sherwood Anderson. Robert Louis Stevenson famously "played the sedulous ape" - deliberately copying the styles of other writers - as he taught himself to write.

    Go ahead. Imitate Chesterton all you want. Eventually, with a little luck, future writers will be imitating the Byzantine Bandit.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Both Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison write in the style of William Faulkner, yet all three writers have distinct features about their styles that make their works unique. So like the others have said, it's OK to copy a particular style. Chances are that you're eventually going to develop your own style anyway.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I experienced this once. I was writing short stories on a blog, which earned some die hard fans. After I finished the project and moved on, I got some emails asking me if a certain other blog was mine too. I went to check it out and had to concur, the writing sounded a lot like mine! The thought processes behind it weren't exactly the same, or the topics, but the style was scarily familiar. It turned out that one of the die hard fans opened it, after I left.

    I wasn't sure how I felt about that. On one hand, I was upset and I felt violated. The girl clearly ripped off my soul, in a way. But she was a nice person and didn't mean any harm, she just liked it so much she worked hard to emulate it, So I supported her, reassured everyone that I was ok with it, but deep down I was quite disturbed, like I discovered a doppelgänger,

    I couldn't emulate anyone's voice so precisely, I wouldn't want to anyway, but some people evidently can. I am certain it isn't plagiarism, though, but it is a bit lame, especially if you are the one being copied.
     
  9. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Interesting thought: Has anyone ever been accused of plagiarism simply because their style is close to someone elses?
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can't copyright style.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    anyone who'd accuse someone of plagiarism, for having a similar style to another writer, hasn't a clue what plagiarism means, or can legally apply to...
     

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